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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Savanna Restaurant Bringing Breakfast — And The ‘Magic Pancake Man’ — To Former Nookie’s Spot In Lakeview

Ecuadorian brothers Enrique and Luis Calderon taught themselves the restaurant business over 15 years hustling in Chicago kitchens. This will be Savanna's third location in Chicago.

Brothers Luis and Enrique Calderon immigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador and worked in restaurants for over 10 years — before starting their own.
Courtesy of Enrique Calderon
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LAKEVIEW — Two brothers from Ecuador are opening their third breakfast spot on the North Side. 

Savanna Restaurant, serving American breakfast with Latin American influences, will open this summer at 3334 N. Halsted St. in Lakeview. It will replace another breakfast place, Nookies Tree, that closed in 2019.

Enrique Calderon said he and his brother, Luis Calderon, signed for the space last week. They aim to open in July. Savanna already has locations in West Ridge, 5657 N. Lincoln Ave., and North Center, 4111 N. Lincoln Ave.

The Calderon brothers grew up on a farm in Ecuador and are self-taught in the restaurant business. 

Luis Calderon said he came to the United States in 2001 and got his first job as a dishwasher. From there, he worked his way up “little by little, being a busser, food runner, bartender, everything on the front side.”

Enrique Calderon said he is “the chef in the back.” He moved to the United States in 2005 and learned to cook while working at breakfast places from the iconic Ina’s to Chicago Waffles. 

At Ina’s, Enrique Calderon was known as the “Magic Pancake Man” for his knack for flipping flapjacks.

The brothers opened their first Savanna location in 2016 in North Center, Calderon said. The business has its nods to their native country: The shop’s color is “green, just like Ecuador is,” Enrique Calderon said. And the name “Savanna” is a way to get customers to picture the “the big open land, farms and green spaces where we grew up,” he said.

Growing a business of their own is rewarding after many years hustling in Chicago kitchens, Enrique Calderon said. 

“We believe in our dreams,” Enrique Calderon said. “And we keep working every day like it’s the first day.” 

Enrique Calderon said he picked up Ecuadorian, Mexican, Cuban and French recipes while cooking at restaurants around the city. Many ingredients for Savanna are sourced from local Ecuadorian grocery stores, Calderon said. 

Savanna’s most unique dish: llapingacho Benedict, an Ecuadorian potato cake served with eggs and hollandaise.  

The brothers decided to expand to Lakeview after hearing many of their customers lived there, Luis Calderon said. 

“We’re so excited for the new place,” Calderon said.  “We work so hard when we are here, and now is the opportunity to give some jobs to another person, so they can grow with it and have the opportunities we had.” 

Credit: Enrique Calderon
A llapingacho benedict at Savanna Restaurant

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