After over a year (but what really feels like a lot longer), Lula Cafe and Billy Sunday have a new, vibrant neighbor that’s been years in the making. Young American (2545 N. Kedzie Ave.) officially opened its doors last week, serving mouth-watering “progressive” deluxe grub and special cocktails that feature CBD oil, if you so choose to switch out your fun.
Young American co-owners and Partners at Leisure Activities Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue are behind this new scene. The hospitality duo also
Jonathan Sydello designed the space, which barely looks like it used to when Johnny’s Grill lived there. It has an open kitchen, a wraparound bar, tables that line the wall and benches with open floor space on the side that used to be Mezcaleria las
To welcome the Young American team to the neighborhood, we spoke with the team on choosing Logan Square, what the first bar opening of 2019 is bringing to the community and the how the novelty of CBD-infused drinks fits into the bar’s wellness aesthetic.
What attracted the Young American team to set up shop in Logan Square?
Wade McElroy, co-owner and Partner at
YA’s menu is slated to be a mix of fun small plates. What’s your favorite dish on the menu, or which would you recommend that best represents YA’s style?
Nick Jirasek, director of food: I love the Nighttime Sisig, it has bold delicious flavors and also speaks to the fact that we’re a country of immigrants, this dish is a melting pot mixing Mexican, Spanish and Filipino traditions.
Tell me about this Goth Bread. Where did the idea come from?
Jirasek: The Goth Bread is inspired by
Photos: Nick Murway/Young American
When the bread comes out of the oven, it is basted in sage smoked European style Pine River Dairy butter and crowned with roasted tomatoes and a Cedar Ridge egg yolk. We serve the Goth Bread with Nighttime sauce (roasted cherry tomatoes, wilted basil, roasted garlic
Chef Jirasek is noted to have made an effort to incorporate health/wellness trending ingredients and components into his dishes. How would you say that comes to life, and what sparked that interest?
Jirasek: People are more conscious than ever about health and wellness; this is just how people are eating. We work to incorporate these ingredients that are often found in the wellness lexicon, focusing first and foremost on flavor… the health benefits are secondary. A few good examples are the sage-smoked “smudged butter” on the Goth Bread and kava in the Adobo Peanuts.
How does that theme carry over
to the drinks (like the CBD-infused cocktails?)
Julia McKinley, beverage director: This theme is carried over into our beverage offerings by way of CBD-infused cocktails, but also through the ingredients like turmeric, schizandra berry and juniper that are found in our spirit-free cocktails. We also offer a restorative shot that is a reviving combination of turmeric, ginger, schizandra berry
Anything else you want LoganSquarist readers to know?
McElroy: Nick’s menu will be served late. We want this to be a great place for the neighborhood and a late night option for folks in the industry to eat after their shifts. We’re also excited about the incredible local art showcased in the space. We collaborated with artists like Chad Kouri, Alyx Harch, Paul Octavious, Kevin Heisner, Leah Ball, Ariel Baldwin and Tired Projects to create the beautiful pieces incorporated into the space.
Check out the bar’s menu if you want a preview or head over to take in the colorful walls, silhouettes of well-known musicians (can you spot them in the bar’s logo?) and exotic drinks and food.
Featured photo: a messy spread of the bar’s dishes is what you need after a late-night work shift. Photo: Nick Murway.