LAKEVIEW — Little Goat Diner opens next week in Lakeview, completing the three-restaurant project to replace Southport Lanes, which closed in 2021.
Little Goat Diner, a Boka Restaurant Group business from chef Stephanie Izard, opens April 18 at 3325 N. Southport Ave. It’s relocating from the West Loop, where Izard opened her spin on the classic American diner in 2012.
It’s the last of three Boka restaurants moving into the former Southport Lanes building, which the restaurant group took over in 2021. Itoko, a Japanese restaurant by chef Gene Kato, and GG’s Chicken Shop by chef Lee Wolan opened earlier this year.
Little Goat Diner is introducing items to its menu, such as the Pork Belly Sammie with sticky pork belly, crispy sweet potato and herby pickled veggie slaw on ciabatta. It will also have Chili Crunch Chicken and Dumplings.
Visitors can also expect Little Goat Diner staples like the Bull’s Eye French toast with fried chicken; okonomiyaki, a savory pancake with bacon and a sunny-side egg; and chickpea salad, which has kale, chopped veggies, montamore cheese and tzatziki.
The restaurant will not take reservations, and it has seating for 40 people inside and another 40 on the patio.
The restaurant is also introducing a “Grab & Goat” section, where walkup patrons can buy coffee, pastries and breakfast sandwiches, according to Boka.
Little Goat Diner is the second of Izard’s collaborations with Boka Group. A James Beard award winner and the first woman winner of “Top Chef,” Izard opened The Girl & The Goat across the street on Randolph in 2010.
Southport Lanes, a restaurant and bowling alley in Lakeview, closed in late 2020 after months of being shut down because of the pandemic. Its owners announced in July 2021 it would remain closed for good.
Southport Lanes has long been a part of Chicago lore given its history as a classic tavern that turned into a speakeasy and brothel during Prohibition.
The bar was built by Schlitz Brewery around 1900 and named The Nook. In 1922, federal laws banned brewers from owning taverns, so its name was changed to Southport Lanes and four hand-set bowling lanes were added.
The tavern became a speakeasy with an upstairs brothel during the 1920s, according to Southport Lanes’ former website. The building still has a dumbwaiter that was used to bring refreshments to the women and their clients.
When Prohibition ended, a building went up east of the bar room, which Southport Lanes used as the billiards room. That originally housed an illegal gambling facility, and it became a beer hall for rent and a local polling place in the ’50s.
Little Goat Diner will be open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
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