While the shops and restaurants surrounding the Square have seemed a bit sparse lately, a newcomer restaurant, Merchant, is set to open its doors this weekend.
The new restaurant, bar and patio will serve up American fare with a twist and focus on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. Taking up residence in the former Dunlays on the Square location at 3137 W. Logan Blvd., Merchant offers brunch, lunch, dinner and late night fare, and hopes to bring a welcoming neighborhood vibe to the Square.
“We definitely hope to bring guests experiences that allow them to forget about their daily stresses; an experience that’s immersive and welcoming enough for them to forget about anything negative,” says Chris Huizar, co-owner of the restaurant along with Chris Jones. “Everyone wants higher quality and elevated products. They want a place where people know their name. We want to be that everyday destination for people.”
While traditional American cuisine may bring to mind hot dogs, cheeseburgers and the like, Huizar and his team are taking a modern approach and creating unexpected flavor combinations that are reminiscent of Chicago and Logan Square’s melting pot of cultures.
“Our Chorizo Ravioli is my favorite dish on the menu and definitely represents Merchant’s style; it sounds traditional, but it’s full of different flavors you wouldn’t expect from the usual ravioli,” he says.
Other items on the menu include Broccoli Gratin, Fried Rice Arancini and—of course—a wide selection of tempting craft cocktails. The creative mind behind this eclectic menu is Chef Matt Skolarus, who previously worked with some of Chicago’s most beloved restaurants such as Japonais, Girl & the Goat, Ruxbin, Ramen-San and RPM Italian. Chef Skolarus says his mom’s home cooking was the biggest inspiration for Merchant’s menu style, which translates into the restaurant’s casual ambiance.
Logan Square was a natural choice for Merchant to take up residence, according to the owners. It’s their first solo project but they’ve been in the business for a long time and aim to keep things local; they hired locally and had pop-up events during the Logan Square Arts Fest. Beyond its offerings of unique dishes and craft cocktails that are sure to please Logan Square residents, Huizar said it’s the heart and history of Logan Square that it really identifies with.
“There’s a lot of character and value in the decades-old family-owned businesses in Logan Square but the community also welcomes new businesses, like ours,” Huizar says. This is a neighborhood full of first adopters, a place where people can be individuals and have their own personalities. Our approachability, environment and offerings are that of a neighborhood, and Merchant represents the culture, lives and price point Logan Square identifies with. Everything we do is based on interactions and being a social hub for the neighborhood.”
Your furry friends can also enjoy the casual, neighborhood experience at Merchant’s dog-friendly patio, which boasts 60 seats for outdoor dining. Expect to see a few upcoming events hosted by Merchant in the near future as well. The owners hint they’ll be putting together neighborhood gatherings in their event space.
Merchant will be open for dinner starting today, July 16 at 5 p.m. Normal weekday hours will begin on Monday, July 21 with lunch, dinner and late-night offerings.