Jack’s Curve Park opens next week, combining ‘classic’ French cuisine with an accessible neighborhood atmosphere.

Wicker Park – A family-owned French restaurant opens in Wicker Park on Monday.

Jack’s Curve Park, 2056 W Division St., is owned by David and Michelle Nelson, West Loop residents who have talked for years about opening their own restaurant while trying to eat while traveling around the world.

David Nelson quit his job as a shopping center executive last year and made that dream a reality. The couple started looking for places to think about what their restaurant looked like and what it could serve.

“I went through a process in 2021 where I said, you know, this is really the fourth quarter of the game, the fourth quarter of my life. I’m still ready to wear uniforms and play, but; three A quarter is gone, “said Nelson, 58. “I kept coming back to the idea of ​​doing something where I was directly involved in creating something that could make others better. People’s lives in a small way.”

Nelson signed a lease at Division Street late last year, a former piano restaurant that has been vacant for several years.

They did extensive renovations but maintained the order of the restaurant, which had a front bar and a large dining room at the back. It has a retreat roof for days with good weather.

Credit: Provided
David and Michelle Nelson renovated their former piano location to open their new restaurant.

Jack will serve classic items, including French onion soup, escargot and steak fritters, as well as a crochet madam, burgers and pork tenderloin scintigel, among other items.

“I wanted the food to be of the best quality. But I wanted the food to be accessible. I didn’t want it to be esoteric in nature,” said David Nelson.

To accomplish this mission, Nelson hired Head Chef Chris Holderman, a former executive chef at Nokies Restaurant in Old Town and Lincoln Park.

Holderman said the first dish he approached for Jack was steak fries, he wanted to make it interesting for diners as well as accessible.

“We want to make sure we have a big cut of beef, but at the same time it’s not – because steak can be very expensive – it’s not that far,” he said. “I like to make traditional pairs, dishes that people will know, but give them a little twist. دلچسپ It’s interesting. It’s accessible. You don’t need a food encyclopedia to understand the dish.

Credit: Queen Myers / Block Club Chicago
Jack’s new home in Curve Park, a French restaurant owned by husband and wife Tim David and Michelle Nelson

And while Nelson has been inspired by his travels around the world, he has also found a model very close to home: the Chicago Hotel.

“I’ve always found these corner neighborhood bars more compelling than the latest nightclubs. David Nelson said I was just curious about this community.” So North Star is a restaurant for us as a team. There is a crossroads of creation that has a sense of community, that is extending people’s lives and it has only wonderful food. ”

Occasionally there will be live music in the dining room, which is provided from time to time in the name of the restaurant: 17-year-old son Jack, senior at Whitney Young Magnet High School and jazz musician. When he is not at school or playing music, he may be working part-time as a dishwasher in a restaurant.

Nelson also thought that Jack’s name reflected the environment he was trying to create. He didn’t want a fancy French word that people would forget or have trouble pronouncing.

“French names can be intimidating; but everyone knows Jack or a classmate by the name Jack,” said Michelle Nelson.

The restaurant will have an outdoor cocktail area and eventually a sidewalk courtyard along Division Street.

For Holderman, cooking at Wicker Park is a “homecoming” – he began working as a neighborhood chef in the 1990’s before moving to restaurants across the city.

“The first place I cooked for someone else and got paid for it was at a jazz club called Bop Shop at Division and Wood,” Holderman said. “I had to cook for a lot of jazz musicians and I made some black-eyed peas and things like that, but I’ve always loved Walker Park.”

Nelson hopes his restaurant will become a fixture in the neighborhood, the kind of place where a family goes when their child comes back from college or where a couple stays for a date night.

“What David and I have learned over the years is that food brings us to a restaurant for the first time. But what brings you back is good service and a good atmosphere and a good memory,” said Michelle Nelson. “A great dining experience, that’s what brings people back.”

Jack’s Walker Park will be open for lunch and dinner on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on weekends from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Credit: Queen Myers / Block Club Chicago
Jack’s Curve Park opens in a former Pisano location, 2056 W Division St. Monday.

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