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Chicago Chop Shop to open in Wicker Park in July

Combination butcher shop, restaurant, bar and event space in the works in a former Wicker Park warehouse space

By Samantha Nelson, @samanthanelson1

For RedEye

March 25, 2013

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Chicago Chop Shop, a combination butcher shop, restaurant and event space, is set to open in July in a 100-year-old Wicker Park warehouse. 

Located at 2033 W. North Ave., Chicago Chop Shop's counter-service butcher shop will open at 9 a.m. to offer meats along with sandwiches and antipasto salads.

“Chicago loves their meats, and everyone I know has a grill and enjoys every moment of nice weather Chicago gets,” co-owner Nick Moretti said. 

Co-owner Mario Minelli brings the meat cred from Minelli's Meat & Deli in Niles. First opened in Little Italy, the three-generations-old family business is known for its sausage and meatballs.

Meat will also be the focus of the menu in the venue's upstairs restaurant, where diners will be encouraged to take home more than leftovers. “If you love your filet mignon [in the restaurant], you can buy the cut of meat and walk out with something to grill on your own," Moretti said.

Ty Fujimara of Arami and former bar The Exchange is helping develop the restaurant’s menu, including a drink list that will include wine, sake and locally sourced brews and sprits. The team is looking into having a growler-filling station and carrying an exclusive spirit from a Chicago-area distillery. “We love our spirits and we think it would be really cool to create some kind of custom blend," co-owner Matt Woodburn said.

The owners bought the space, which was last occupied by an auto body shop, a year and a half ago and gutted it. They've installed a wrap-around L-shaped bar that seats 27 and booths for another 30 people on the first floor. The upstairs restaurant area will have seating for 60 inside, plus another 70 on a 2,000-square-foot patio that has access to the event space through a catwalk.

Named 1st Ward, the event space is tucked right behind the butcher shop and features high ceilings, exposed brick walls and a mezzanine that circles half the floor and can be used for extra seating or viewing room. The area will be available to rent, but the owners also plan to use it to host public concerts and culinary events with guest chefs.

“We’re designing the stage to have the flexibility to transform itself every night from a theater event to a concert to a private dinner,” Moretti said. 

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