Two Scottsdale, Ariz.-based bars are planning to spread their concepts around the country, and their first stop is River North.
El Hefe (Spanish for "the boss") Super Macho Taqueria plans to open the first or second week of May in Dos Diablos' former space at 15 W. Hubbard St. Owner Jon Wright is from northwest suburban Cary, Ill. and said he was looking for a prime location to serve 25- to 35-year-old professionals, “The young people that still go out and party but actually have money.”
Brad Parker and Kyle Badgley were looking for a new concept to bring to Chicago when they visited American Junkie in Scottsdale two years ago. They're scheduled to open on March 20 at 15 W. Illinois St. in a space that will be plenty breezy come summertime with a retractable roof, garage door on the first floor and wall of windows on the second floor. They want the bar to live up to its name by offering all the things Americans are addicted to: food, drinks, sports and music.
“I’m born and raised in Chicago and Kyle went to college here," Parker said. "River North is our favorite place in Chicago. It’s where we feel the most action is, the best entertainment, where places are popping up. We felt we needed to be here.”
El Hefe's signature drink is the Bulldog Garita, a margarita served in a 32-ounce beer glass topped with an up-ended bottle of Corona. They'll also have a shot bar where you can order up fancifully named concoctions such as Sex with an Alligator or Blue Balls.
“We’re a party bar, but we really focus on the food aspect too,” Wright said. El Hefe will serve made-from-scratch tacos, burgers, hot dogs and tostadas, plus brunch Saturday and Sunday.
Of the 32 taps at American Junkie, Parker reports that two will pour wine, two will be devoted to beers unique to the bar from a still-to-be-determined brewery and two or more others will serve signature cocktails spiked with vodka or whiskey.
Parker and Badgley teamed up with former Sepia and City Tavern chef Kendal Duque to develop a menu they hope to use in future expansion of American Junkie to cities such as Boston, Miami and Washington, DC. "We said, we want you to totally redo our menu and take what we feel our brand is and put a gourmet twist on bar food," Parker said. "We want to take classic bar food and elevate it to a new level. From the first tasting, we knew he was our guy.”
Both bars will also be offering plenty of entertainment. The second story at American Junkie hosts one of the country's largest seamless HDTVs, a 9-foot by 16.5-foot screen that will show sports and serve as a backdrop for weekly appearances by DJs and bands. If that's not enough, they also have 38 more TVs, the smallest of which is 60 inches.
El Hefe will host DJs spinning Top 40 and rock twice a week, and you'll regularly see servers dancing on the bars, sometimes with a Mr. T impersonator who will be coming in once a month. They also will host weekly parties from 4-10 p.m. Sundays. “It’s a perfect party for day drinking,” Wright said. “It’s for people that want to drink Sunday, but still have to work Monday.”
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