After almost 40 years, Chef Luciano, the takeout-focused and fast-casual restaurant on the Close to South Aspect has closed its doorways. Although quick-service eating lately has caught the eye of everybody from celeb cooks like Rick Bayless (Xoco) to main restaurant teams like Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (M Burger, Beatrix) the family-owned Close to South Aspect restaurant was forward of the development by about 4 a long time. The void the neighborhood beacon has left will likely be quickly crammed by Erick Williams, the chef and proprietor of Virtue in Hyde Park.
David Gupta based the restaurant and adopted his “Chef Luciano” personna as a advertising gimmick to make clients feel more comfortable that an Indian immigrant was promoting them jerk hen, pastas, and grilled fish. Gupta, now 82, has slowed down after serving Chicago politicians and neighborhood members since 1982. His son, Rocky Gupta, has run the restaurant for years, and his household has additionally been trying to transfer out of Chicago. The pandemic accelerated the method.
“We have been prepared to maneuver on, hoping to relocate right into a smaller setting; a quieter city to boost our children,” Gupta says.
That call introduced a singular alternative for Wlliams. Through the pandemic, Williams discovered his personal calling getting ready meals for overworked hospital workers on the frontlines battling COVID-19. He additionally donated meals made at Advantage to shelters. The problem of doing charitable work compelled Williams to close down Advantage within the interim. Kitchen area is at a premium, and it’s been an industry-wide battle to rent employees. Advantage has been buzzing alongside in current months with Williams reopening the restaurant’s patio.
So Williams and Rocky Gupta, who’ve recognized one another for years, talked and got here to an settlement: Williams has taken over the Chef Luciano area. In late October, he’ll open a brand new takeout-only restaurant, known as Mustard Seed Kitchen. Williams says he’s three weeks away from an official debut.
Williams needs to proceed Chef Luciano’s mission of offering high quality and inexpensive meals, providing what he describes as on a regular basis eats. Clients will discover salads, sandwiches, burgers, and a couple of half dozen entrees together with salmon, tilapia, skirt steaks, and roasted hen. They’ll have fries for the burgers, but additionally a lot of rice and vegetable selections. Like Chef Luciano did earlier than, they’ll additionally serve pasta. Will probably be gluten-free, however not created from scratch. “I’m not making an attempt to chef this factor up,” Williams says.
“Not everyone needs a sit-down dinner,” says Williams, particularly through the pandemic when clients nonetheless aren’t one hundred pc snug with eating at a restaurant.
Earlier than Advantage, Williams made a reputation for himself at MK The Restaurant, working with chef Michael Kornick (co-founder of DMK Eating places). MK was a tremendous eating restaurant hidden away in River North. At Mustard Seed, Williams will serve dishes like sautéed spinach, and pasta with “scrumptious crimson gravy” — the kind of meals Williams makes at house after an evening of labor.
Williams says his religion led to the restaurant’s title; a number of Bible verses point out mustard seeds. For Williams, mustard seeds are tiny, but potent, and able to the influence he needs to make. One other connection to the title didn’t instantly happen to Williams —mustard seeds additionally play a big position in Indian cooking. Every so often, David Gupta would use Indian seasonings and spices at Chef Luciano’s meals. His son sees it as sort of a callback to his household’s restaurant. The youthful Gupta additionally jokes, saying his father for years been making an attempt to get him to rub mustard seed oil on his head pondering it could stimulate hair development.
Naming apart, Rocky Gupta says he trusts Williams to serve Chef Luciano’s loyal clients.
“I didn’t wish to come again in a single, three or 5 years and see it was an condominium advanced,” Gupta says.
Mustard Seed Kitchen, 49 E. Cermak Highway, deliberate for a late-October opening.