In 2017, Grant Achatz and his business partner Nick Kokonas spread their Alinea empire East, opening an outpost of their experimental cocktail bar, Aviary, in New York City. In 2018, their attention will once again shift back to their hometown of Chicago, where they’re hard at work creating a new restaurant and they’ve started sharing more details.
A couple years ago, Achatz and Kokonas bought the space where the pioneering molecular gastronomy restaurant Moto used to reside, and soon after they were able to acquire the furniture store next door, meaning they had ample space for an ambitious new project. In an interview with the magazine Michigan Avenue Achatz discussed what they’re up to saying, “our goal is to create a world-class music venue hand-in-hand with Alinea’s food.”
The three-Michelin-starred chef is quick to follow up with that statement by acknowledging that great food and great music can be a mix that are at odds. “Typically, you can go find great music or great food, but it’s really hard to find them both in the same venue,” he said. “That’s always been a very interesting challenge for us conceptually because there’s so many factors. Think of a bustling restaurant, a lot of musicians in particular are very picky about their venues and acoustics.”
In a Reddit AMA last year, Kokonas says it has been slow going to make sure they get it right. “Designing what we have in our heads has been a challenge but we’re being patient. The one thing we try to do, regardless of the cost, is not to run too quickly towards a build without fully understanding what we want our guests to experience. I think we’re getting close.”
As for an opening date, neither have said when people can expect that. However, Kokonas did have one little surprise. “For a long time we’ve wanted to do a venue that combines a few great experiences in one place—primarily food and music. That’s our intention in that location… and serving breakfast too.”