LOGAN SQUARE — A takeout and delivery spot offering wings, pizza potstickers and other food that “goes great with a beer and a shot” has opened on Logan Square’s Armitage Avenue.
Way Out quietly opened in late January at 3213 W. Armitage Ave., the former home of the seafood restaurant Sink|Swim and pop-up Good Fortune.
Owners Neil Kopp and Nathan Case-McDonald set out to open a bar, but they had to pivot due to the pandemic. Now they’re serving their bar food, bottled cocktails and beer via takeout and delivery, a “preview of what’s to come,” Case-McDonald said. The plan is to open the bar to customers once they’ve deemed it safe.
“We struggle with our elevator speech,” Kopp said. “The thing we always come back to is we just wanted to open a fun bar, somewhere you can go and not think too much about what you’re consuming, where you can order a drink and hang out with all of your friends and eat awesome food.”
Way Out is the first bar and restaurant project for Kopp and Case-McDonald, who have years of experience working in the industry. They worked behind the bar at Longman & Eagle — Kopp as a bartender and Case-McDonald as an assistant bar manager. Before Longman, Kopp worked at Cherry Circle Room and Big Star. Case-McDonald’s resume also includes Webster’s Wine Bar and Dusek’s.
Their friend, Shay Linkus, a chef who has worked at Odd Duck and The Vanguard in Milwaukee, helped them craft a takeout and delivery menu.
The menu is filled with simple yet delicious food “that people want to eat,” Kopp said. In addition to wings and pizza potstickers, a customer favorite, the crew is serving up chicken parmesan hoagies, Philly cheesesteak, classic double cheeseburgers and chicken fried shrimp, among other dishes.
They also offer beer and bottled cocktails. One of their cocktail creations, called Twin Vibrations, is made with Jamaican rum, lime juice, amaretto, peach bitters and sugar. Cocktails are only available for carryout.
“When we realized we had to do this delivery thing, we sat down and were like, ‘What do you want to eat? What’s accessible and easy to execute on our end?'” Kopp said.
Chicago has made progress in its fight against coronavirus and bars are allowed to open with restrictions and capacity limits, but Kopp and Case-McDonald aren’t ready to have customers inside at Way Out. Kopp said they’re waiting until vaccinations reach food service workers and more residents.
“The last few times restrictions were eased, people misbehaved and we saw surges,” Kopp said. “We’re still trying to learn, and we’re not super comfortable learning the hard way.”
Another reason they’re sticking to carryout and delivery for the time being, they said, is social distancing doesn’t fit the vibe they’re going for.
“We hope to not have a muted environment,” Kopp said. “It’s supposed to be rowdy, a place where everyone’s welcome.”
Until that day comes, they’re focused on building a customer base through takeout and delivery service. Way Out is open 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
While opening a bar/restaurant in the middle of a pandemic hasn’t been easy, the duo said the time has allowed them to carefully craft a solid food and drink menu, thoughtfully design the bar’s interior and form bonds with neighboring business owners. Way Out is serving chocolate chip cookies from neighbor Sweet Shot Cookies. The folks who run neighboring spots like GO Tavern & Liquors and The Moonlighter have sent business their way.
“Everyone’s been super super welcoming and helpful,” Case-McDonald. “It feels different because we’re all in this together.”
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