The new vegan restaurant Kitchen 17 is planting its roots in East Lake View, with plans to create a healthy café with a Mediterranean twist.
Sitting in the former Matto Fornaio Italian bakery at 613 W. Briar Place, the storefront is just off North Broadway’s booming business corridor. Owner Don Clements says Lake View residents already seem attracted to health-conscious dining, and he’s hoping Kitchen 17 will be the next hot spot.
“I suspect there must be an interest (in vegan food) in the general area, especially with places like Native Foods and Chicago Diner—that’s a landmark,” Clements said. “Every time my wife and I go, we have to wait for a table.”
Clements moved to East Lake View from Columbus, OH in September where he originally planned to open Kitchen 17 before his wife received a job transfer. But after seeing the space on Briar, Clements said he knew the business model would fit perfectly here in Chicago.
“It’ll have a little bit of a deli feel. As a vegan, there’s nothing that really replicates going to a good deli, so this will be something to mimic that.”
Already a practicing vegan, Clements says he plans to incorporate his wife’s Israeli and Moroccan roots in the food to give it a twist.
“The cuisine is going to be from all around the world,” Clements said. “There will be a good selection of Mediterranean food, a good selection of Asian dishes and, in general, just good comfort food. … I would definitely like to think non-vegans would enjoy eating here as well, especially because a lot of Mediterranean food is already somewhat vegan anyway.”
The small sit-down café will also serve up cold dishes to diners deli-style to take home and heat up on their own.
“It’ll have a little bit of a deli feel,” he said. “As a vegan, there’s nothing that really replicates going to a good deli, so this will be something to mimic that.”
And Clements says, although he’s planning a steady opening, he has big dreams for what the place could transform into. Along with applying for a sidewalk café permit, he says Kitchen 17 will soon be a BYOB restaurant, and it could host life musical performances in the near future.
The tentative hours will be from about 3 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Friday, Saturdays from 11 a.m. to midnight, Sundays from 11 a.m. to mid-afternoon and closed on Mondays.