Chicago Sun-Times

The new Chicago hang­out with a $350 PB&J

- BY NAOMI WAXMAN Eater Chicago Orig­i­nally pub­lished on Food · Recreation · Restaurants · Dining Out · Printer's Row, Chicago, IL · Oxford · New Zealand · California · New York City · french fries · LondonHouse Chicago · Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, Prop., Inc.

Anew West Loop restau­rant has cho­sen a name that clearly high­lights its ma­jor at­trac­tions: PB&J — Pizza, Beer, and Juke­box. Re­plac­ing Ful­ton Mar­ket Com­pany, 205 N. Peo­ria St., the restau­rant comes from a pair of night­club refugees who left that in­dus­try with wor­ries that it would never re­cover from the COVID-19 pan­demic.

“I feel like once the re­ces­sion hit with the quar­an­tine, it was kind of writing on the wall,” says Matthew McCahill. “The days of night­clubs are gone.”

Co-own­ers and broth­ers Matthew and Josh McCahill were laid off from their jobs at the Ox­ford (the group be­hind Ho­tel Es­sex and Lon­donHouse Chicago) and down­town night­club Elec­tric Ho­tel in March. The sib­lings de­cided to move for­ward with an idea Matthew McCahill came up with around 2011: a fam­ily-friendly hang­out with mu­sic, beer and a menu in­clud­ing a deca­dent $350 peanut but­ter and jelly sand­wich. The restau­rant should open July 7.

The cen­ter of attention is the over-thetop $350 “Golden Goose” that has to be or­dered at least a day in ad­vance. It’s an en­tire loaf of toasted bread made with edi­ble gold leaf and lay­ered with Mai­son Dutriez Red Cur­rant Jam; it’s the most ex­pen­sive jelly in the world, de-seeded by hand with goose quills. The peanut but­ter is Adams All-Nat­u­ral, and it’s af­ford­able, re­tail­ing for around $5 per jar. It’s then driz­zled with Manuka Honey, an in­gre­di­ent na­tive to New Zealand. They’ll also of­fer PB&Js in loaf form — the sand­wiches are re­assem­bled in­side a bag, pre­sented to din­ers, then sliced open table­side.

Pricey takes on clas­sics aren’t un­usual for the area. The now-closed Re­gards to Edith sold a $19 Ital­ian beef sand­wich in Ful­ton Mar­ket. Matthew McCahill was in­spired by a pre­vi­ous en­counter with a $299 “most ex­pen­sive” peanut but­ter and jelly sand­wich in Cal­i­for­nia, but was unim­pressed. “All it was was a gold tooth­pick,” he says. “I thought that was bor­ing.”

PB&J will of­fer the clas­sic in its orig­i­nal form (Won­der Bread, peanut but­ter, grape jelly made in the kitchen), as a loaf, or as the open-faced “Elvis Style” (toasted wheat bread, sliced ba­nanas, with op­tional ba­con).

Chef Alphonse Griger, for­merly of the New York Yacht Club, will of­fer some un­usual piz­zas like a loaded baked potato (potato, ba­con, sour cream bechamel, mozzarella cheese, scal­lions) and pou­tine (duck fat, mush­room gravy, fries, cheese curds, chives). The pies are neo-Neapoli­tan thin crust.

Josh McCahill se­lected PB&J’s beer of­fer­ings, which range from easy-drink­ing fa­vorites to more hoppy op­tions. Cus­tomers can also or­der beer flights, or off a menu of straight­for­ward cock­tails with quippy names like “Okay, Boomer” (Jack Daniels, lemon­ade) and “This One’s for Karen” (Cham­pagne, pas­sion­fruit).

Dive bars are known for a care­fully cu­rated juke­box that can set a space’s mood. The McCahills have gone dig­i­tal with the stan­dard TouchTunes Juke­box which cus­tomers can use to stream mu­sic.

The 3,000-square-foot space seats 299 in­side in to­tal (the city’s rules limit in­door din­ing to 25 per­cent ca­pac­ity), and in­cludes two re­tractable garage doors. The McCahills also plan to open pa­tio seat­ing in the near fu­ture for those who would rather eat in the open air. The space fea­tures a col­or­ful mu­ral of a CTA train, a hand­ful of TVs, painted song lyrics on one wall, dec­o­ra­tive tap han­dles, and bright neons.

Keep­ing staff and cus­tomers safe from COVID-19 is top of mind for most bar and restau­rant own­ers, and the McCahills say their space is well-suited for so­cial dis­tanc­ing. Re­tractable doors al­low for bet­ter air cir­cu­la­tion, and the bar suf­fi­ciently spa­cious that four dif­fer­ent groups can sit there with­out get­ting too close. They’ve also pur­chased an HVAC with ul­tra-vi­o­let light to kill bac­te­ria and are putting QR codes on each ta­ble to min­i­mize con­tact with staff.

 ?? KIRA AN­DER­SON/PB&J ?? Josh and Matthew McCahill.
KIRA AN­DER­SON/PB&J Josh and Matthew McCahill.

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