Monday, June 16, 2008

Hooray! Another Empty Storefront Filled

We've been watching 4623 North Broadway for several months now, intrigued by the demolition going on in the back of this beautiful old building.

Neighborhood gossip had it that a restaurant and banquet hall had expressed interest in the site a while back, but no one knew if they were the same people behind the demo or if someone else had bought the building.

Today we noticed a building permit has been posted, at long last. It's for "interior alterations on existing building, 1st and 2nd floor and foundation, to columns work at basement for a restaurant as per plan." The owner's name on the permit is the same as the owner of Bolat in Wrigleyville, so we're eager to see what will show up here in Uptown.

In any case, it's good to see another "For Rent" sign taken down on this blighted stretch of Broadway, and we have high hopes that the extensive rehab denotes a solid commitment to our community.


  1. I'm excited about the rehab on Broadway, as it's around the corner from me, but do you all think this neighborhood will support another African cuisine restaurant? With Demera over on Lawrence and Broadway and the restaurant that opened on Leland and Kenmore, I'm just wondering if we don't need some more diverse cuisine. I'm also assuming that this owner would open another African cuisine restaurant...we know what assuming can lead to...

    Granted, we are pretty well stocked up on Thai and Sushi places around this neighborhood, too. I'm not complaining, I am just concerned about the restaurant's success and I also hope to see more diversity in cuisine for our neighborhood. I know most restaurants fail in the first year and I would hate to see another vacant store front any time soon.

    Anyone hear anything else about the type of cuisine that will be served here? I think Demera is Ethiopian and Bolat is Nigerian, so there would be some differences there. Isn't the place on Leland and Kenmore Nigerian, as well?

  2. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, there are 30,000+ Nigerians in the city, primarily on the north side: "Nigerian businesses and residents have concentrated mainly on the North Side. The number and variety of fruit markets and small stores on Broadway that carry large quantities of African foods indicate the Nigerian community's buying power." There are nearly 5,000 Ethiopians, primarily in Uptown/Edgewater/Rogers Park. This is already more than Chicago Thai/Vietnamese population combined, without counting other African groups. I think the area can definitely support more African restaurants.

  3. Several years ago, this stretch of Broadway was chock full of hairbraiding businesses.

    If nothing else, Nigerian cab drivers will have a place to hang when they're not transporting fares.

    There are lots of Africa immigrants--Somalians, Ehtiopians, Nigerians, Eritreans, Ghanians--on the north side, from Wilson north to Granville. So much so that I've started referring this stretch of Broadway as "Africago."

  4. What's a good intro to Ethiopian food that I could order at a place like Demera?

  5. Demera's food is incredible and they have live music on some weekends. Ask any of the servers there to assist with the menu. They are very friendly and take pride in the restaurant. I wondered the times I have been there if some of the staff may be related to the owner. It has the feel of a family business.

    I don't imagine there is anything bad on their menu, but some things can be spicy if that isn't your thing. Not hot spicy, but flavorful spicy.

    To marathonman1977's comment about too many African restaurants for our neighborhood to support, Demera is almost always packed. They came in with a great reputation and delivered on that reputation immediately. If this is 2nd restaurant for Bolat's owners, it will probably do well too. The Nigerian Kitchen on Wilson never seems to have any customers. Not sure if it is a location thing, reputation thing or something else, but you're right it will be interesting to see how they do.

    I hope they have much success. We need all the healthy businessess in Uptown we can get. God knows we have the vacant storefronts to prove it.