posted by chicago pop
We thought a steak had been driven through the heart of the undead restaurant known as Orly's when we learned last fall that, like my single and social-security-eligible aunt, it had recently gone online to look for love. But, according to a blurb in the January number of Chicago Magazine, Orly's is back. Make that Orly's version 8.0. The latest resuscitation takes the name "Big Easy" and shares with all 8 previous incarnations the menu magic of owner David Shopiro.
Somewhat of a surprise, since last we heard, Shopiro was unloading the restaurant and keeping the kitchen catering only. Not so: Orly's has been reinvented yet again, but with a partner, as per Chicago Magazine's "The Pig Out":
The last days of 2009 saw the quiet opening of The Big Easy (1660 E. 55th St.; 773-643-5500), in the space that formerly housed Hyde Park Barbeque & Bakery, and before that, Orly’s, Jalapeño’s, and the original Orly’s. All four (five if you count Orly’s twice) of these restaurants have been owned by David Shopiro, who says he felt the itch to reinvent again last spring. He brought on the South Side native and Lettuce Entertain You vet Jennifer Gavin as an equity partner and together they developed a New Orleans–themed menu, but he kept one aspect that’s been constant since 1981: the bakery. “We have Creole/Cajun, southern barbecue, and a bakery under one roof,” Shopiro says. “I don’t think anyone else has this.” Everyone needs a niche.
Back in October, it looked like the restaurant might actually come into new hands and get the complete makeover it sorely needs. According to Chicago Weekly:
After a series of failed reinventions and menu changes over the last decade, Shopiro realized he was ready to move on and made the following offer on Craigslist this August: “Owner of 30 years in newly renovated central location wants to phase out and just focus on catering…the restaurant operation will be your ship to steer.” Offering control over the kitchen and all front-of-the-house operations, Shopiro’s only requirement was $75,000 in operating capital. Shopiro says he received about a dozen serious offers among over one hundred responses. He says he’s currently negotiating with two “classically trained New Orleans chefs” who want to renovate the dining room, overhaul the menu, and convert the bakery display cases into a bar offering several craft beers on tap as part of a deal he hopes to close by November.
So the bakery is still there, instead of a bar serving craft beers (too good to have been true); as in all previous 7 versions, Shopiro had a hand in the new menu of version 8.0; and it's not clear if Jennifer Gavin = two classically-trained New Orleans chefs.
In other words, plus ça change ... but hey, we haven't even eaten there yet. Go try it out yourself and let us know what you think.