The new Chicago hangout with a $350 PB&J
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.