New pizza bar PB&J de­buts in West Loop

Chicago Sun-Times - - TASTE - BY NAOMI WAX­MAN Eater Chicago

PB&J — or Pizza, Beer, and Juke­box — the new West Loop restau­rant that’s re­plac­ing Ful­ton Mar­ket Com­pany, re­cently de­buted with plenty of pies, brews, tunes, and a few changes since the spot was first an­nounced.

Co-own­ers and broth­ers Matthew and Josh McCahill, who pre­vi­ously man­aged night­clubs un­til the pan­demic brought Chicago nightlife to a screech­ing halt in March, want the space to be a lot of things: a fam­ily-friendly spot for pizza, a haunt for mu­sic fans to set the mood with a fa­mil­iar TouchTunes Juke­box, and a des­ti­na­tion for its at­ten­tion-grab­bing $350 “Golden Goose,” a loaf-sized peanut-but­ter-and-jelly sand­wich made with edi­ble gold leaf, Mai­son Dutriez Red Cur­rant Jam (the world’s most ex­pen­sive jelly), New Zealand Manuka Honey, and Adams All-Nat­u­ral peanut but­ter. It needs to be or­dered at least 24 hours in ad­vance, and those who or­der it will take home the re­main­ing jelly (about half, the broth­ers say) in its crys­tal jar.

Ul­ti­mately, the sand­wich’s steep price isn’t rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the rest of the menu. There are 10 spe­cial­ity Neopoli­tan-style pies, which range from $12 to $20, like the

“Brie Cas­tle,” (caramelize­d onion, brie, moz­zarella, pars­ley) that the broth­ers say evokes cult fast food spot fa­vorite White Cas­tle. Other bar-friendly op­tions in­clude sand­wiches, sal­ads, and a “Keep On Jam­min’ Burger” (beet-onion jam, gruyere, crispy green tomato, ba­con aioli, sesame bun). Beer op­tions in­clude more than 20 drafts, plus a few canned brews and White Claw hard seltzer. In­de­ci­sive types can or­der a pre-set flight of five beers for $12.

At 3,000 square feet, the space can seat 299 in­doors, but like all Chicago restau­rants, din­ing rooms are cur­rently lim­ited to 25 per­cent ca­pac­ity due to the coro­n­avirus. There’s pa­tio seat­ing com­ing soon too, ac­cord­ing to the McCahills. In­side, cus­tomers can ex­pect bright beer and mu­sic-themed neons, a painted wall of song lyrics meant to in­spire juke­box se­lec­tions, and a mu­ral of a CTA train.

Lux­ury spins on hum­ble food­stuffs aren’t all that un­usual, but in the midst of a global pan­demic and eco­nomic re­ces­sion when job­less claims are reach­ing record num­bers, some lo­cals were un­im­pressed by the “Golden Goose” con­cept. Among them was Tay­lor Rae Bot­ti­celli, a Chicago hos­pi­tal­ity worker who called the idea “tone deaf ” in a Face­book group for lo­cal ser­vice in­dus­try mem­bers. She and nu­mer­ous oth­ers also ex­pressed con­cern about the names of some of the cock­tails, par­tic­u­larly a drink named “Noth­ing Mat­ters,” which came across as caus­tic in light of Black Lives Mat­ter.

Af­ter her post be­gan re­ceiv­ing at­ten­tion in the group, Bot­ti­celli says Matthew McCahill reached out to her in a pri­vate mes­sage to dis­cuss her con­cerns and elab­o­rate on his own fam­ily’s strug­gles with housing in­se­cu­rity. Both say the con­ver­sa­tion was pro­duc­tive, as Bot­ti­celli ex­plained why good in­ten­tions don’t al­ways can­cel out in­sen­si­tive com­ments or jokes.

“She said, ‘you’ve got to look at what you’re do­ing,’” says Matthew McCahill. “She men­tioned the ‘Noth­ing Mat­ters’ cock­tail and I said, ‘Oh wow, we wrote this menu months ago,’ but when she pointed it out, it made sense and I thanked her for that... We don’t want to of­fend any­body, we care about ev­ery­body’s feel­ings.”

He says the cock­tail’s name was orig­i­nally in­spired by a lyric from Queen mega-hit “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” but it has since been re­named “the Pasmo.” The McCahills also plan to do­nate pro­ceeds from at least the first 10 “Golden Goose” sales to Chicago HOPES for Kids, a lo­cal non-profit that of­fers ed­u­ca­tional sup­port for chil­dren in shel­ters.

Bot­ti­celli says she was sur­prised that he reached out at all, and that he was will­ing to lis­ten and ac­knowl­edge his own blind spots. She wants to see ac­tion to go with their dis­cus­sion, and for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try as a whole take sig­nif­i­cant steps to­ward ad­dress­ing a long legacy of racism and sex­ism.

Matthew McCahill says he ap­pre­ci­ates that Bot­ti­celli re­sponded to his ini­tial mes­sage. “I wish I was more aware, but some­times things miss you when you’re mov­ing a mile a minute,” he says. “Ev­ery­body needs to be thought­ful right now — that in­cludes us.”

PB&J, 205 N. Peo­ria Street, open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Orig­i­nally pub­lished on chicago.eater.com.

KIRA AN­DER­SON

Ev­ery­thing from pizza to chicken and burg­ers are on the menu at PB&J.

KIRA AN­DER­SON

The $350 PB&J sand­wich at PB&J.

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