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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Shake-It Burger Joint Resumes Construction In Ukrainian Village, Aiming For July Opening

Neighbors have historically been cool to the idea of the burger joint, but project partner Dante Deiana said he has "remained positive."

Construction is underway to build Shake-It in Ukrainian Village.
Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Construction for burger joint Shake-It is back on track in Ukrainian Village after months of inaction during the coronavirus pandemic.

The restaurant’s team posted an update of recent progress on Instagram over the weekend after having not posted since March. The delay had left neighbors wondering if the restaurant would built despite the pandemic forcing the closure of restaurants across the country.

Located at 820 N. Damen Ave., the burger- and boozy-milkshake-focused restaurant and bar will replace the since-vacated Grace Auto Repair. 

Ohio-based Forward Hospitality Group, the owner of Shake-It, signed a 99-year lease to replace Grace Auto Repair. While Shake-It has its own website, the site’s information is currently limited to an email address: info@shakeitchicago.com.

During a series of heated community meetings dating back to 2017, Forward Hospitality partners often butted heads with residents who felt Shake-It would not make sense in this part of the neighborhood. 

At a community meeting in 2019, neighbors voiced concerns about late-night noise, parking for delivery drivers, the location of trash cans and other logistical issues.

In an effort to appease neighbors, Forward Hospitality partners scuttled the walk-up window part of the business — a “major concession,” partner and Chicago DJ Dante Deiana said in 2019.

A 2017 rendering of Shake-It. The walk-up window has since been scrapped.

Despite impassioned pleas from residents to halt progress on the restaurant and bar, community approval was not actually required for the Shake-It plan because no zoning change was needed. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) did draft a plan of operation, a binding document used by aldermen to help community members outline rules for businesses.

Shake-It began construction in October 2019 with a planned spring 2020 opening, but the owners paused construction at the outset of the pandemic.

Shake-It renderings presented by architect Jonathan Splitt during a June 27 meeting at J&M Tap, 957 N. Leavitt St. Shake-It is a boozy milkshake and burger restaurant headed for 820 N. Damen Ave.

For months, construction was at a standstill, leaving neighbors to question the future of the partially built site during Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association meetings.

Reached by email this week, Deiana told Block Club there had been efforts by some neighbors to demolish the project due to “lack of construction progress in the middle of a pandemic.” He declined to be interviewed by phone to elaborate.

“We have remained positive and are back underway with hopes to open July 4th weekend,” he said in the email.

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