Chicago has delighted Kevin Kelley ever since he decided to move his restaurant from Dallas to River North. Kelley considers Kevin Kelley’s Kitchen + Kocktails as Chicago’s next great restaurant, to complement a downtown Chicago scene and attract diners who frequent energetic dining venues like Maple & Ash and Adalina.
He thinks there isn’t a restaurant in America (beyond its location in Dallas) that serves up comfort food (items like lobster and cheese macaroni and a tomahawk steak with brandy frosting. Hennessy) in a setting like Kitchen + Kocktails. It’s fun, upscale, and suitable for special occasions.
“We just want to serve people and make them happy,” Kelley says.
The space featured LEDs and Instagrammable screens like the inevitable neon angel wings. Kelley warns customers won’t hear the “elevator music” but the tunes they play in the car, dropping names of Chicago artists like Common and Chance The Rapper.
Encouraging customers to dress up is a top priority for Kelley. Dress codes in restaurants can be slippery slopes, but Kelly intends to uphold the same standards he set in Dallas. This means no sports jerseys, caps or sports slippers. Also note, as explained on Instagram, the restrictions on “revealing outfits” that “show a woman’s private parts”.
There could be a generational schism over what customers deem appropriate when it comes to dress codes, but Kelley says he thinks Chicago has already embraced the dress code because he wants an atmosphere where people feel good and are “surrounded. beautifully dressed people “.
Whether beautiful people show up or not, Kelley says there’s already a high demand for bookings (which he posts every two weeks). In Dallas, professional athletes like the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott and former Cowboy Dez Bryant were known to quit. Kelley is hoping the Chicago Bulls and Bears athletes find their way to her restaurant. Other celebrities who have visited Dallas include 50 Cent, as well as actor and comedian Bill Bellamy. As the Kelley strives to serve famous people, he cautions that celebrities aren’t what he considers his true VIPs: it’s the repeat customers who will make or destroy his business.
With that in mind, the restaurant opens with a lunch and brunch service on departure. As dinner reservations are reserved immediately, walk-ins are welcome at the bar. While the menu is similar to Dallas, Kelley will always bow to Chicago’s black community with references to Reverend Jesse Jackson and the city’s first black mayor, Harold Washington. There’s also a picture of Beyonce wearing a Derrick Rose Bulls jersey and pictures of Barack and Michelle Obama. Kelley says it’s important to pay tribute to black politicians and celebrities who have broken into the mainstream and recognize their accomplishments.
Kelley, a lawyer by profession, is grateful for the support he received in Chicago. The city’s real estate market is a tough nut to crack, especially for black entrepreneurs. He cited names like Kenny Johnson, the owner of Bureau Bar, and his real estate broker, David Goldberg, for opening up opportunities. He might have other Chicago plans up his sleeve, but for now, he’s ready to show Chicago a good time at River North.
Take a look at the space, food, and drink below.
Cooking + Cocktails by Kevin Kelley, 444 N. Wabash, open 11 am-10pm Monday through Thursday 10 am-11pm Friday; From 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Brunch on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.