News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Chipotle Mexican Grill

New Location Brings Ja' Grill Closer to Familiar Customers

By Rachel Wasielewski

Ja’ Grill, the Jamaican restaurant that opened quietly in Harper Court last month, may be new to Hyde Park but not necessarily to Hyde Parkers. Before the restaurant relocated from Lincoln Park, about 30-40% of its customers were from the South Side, said owner Tony Coates.

Coates noted that he was “thrilled at the chance to be closer” to loyal customers and “to build a state of the art restaurant from scratch.” Ja’ Grill is the latest restaurant to open in a burgeoning food corridor in the redeveloped Harper Court, alongside Porkchop, Native Foods, Red Mango, and Chipotle.

Because the new location was specifically designed for Ja’ Grill, the setup is quite different from the previous location.  In the center of the restaurant is one large communal table, with regular-sized tables on one side and the bar on the other.  While there is no formal lounge area, the restaurant’s bar is twice as large as the one in the previous location and Coates believes the bar area and communal table will naturally operate as a lounge.

Aside from the different layout, some things about Ja’ Grill remain the same—the fun and festive environment and the expectation for an authentic Jamaican experience. Ja’ Grill’s motto remains "authentic cuisine, spirits, and beats." Specialties include jerk chicken ($12-$14), curry goat ($18), ox tail ($18), “vegan” Ital Stew ($15), and the whole red snapper eschoveitch (market price), where, yes, you get the entire fish. Prices range from $3 for the coco bread appetizer, to the market-priced whole red snapper; the majority of entrees are between $11 and $20.

Ja’ Grill’s drink menu still includes a variety of rums, such as Ja’ rum punch, a customer favorite, along with many Caribbean drinks and martinis. The restaurant features Jamaican music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with DJs spinning reggae and dancehall during dinner hours through closing.  

Ja’ Grill’s kitchen is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The bar will stay open later.

Private drive at Harper Court now one-way

As of this morning, the new street that was created with the redevelopment of Harper Court has changed from two-directional to one-way. The street, called Harper Court, is a private drive that starts at 53rd Street just west of Chipotle Mexican Grill and ends at Harper Avenue just north of the Hyatt Place hotel.

Traffic on the private drive will now flow north from 53rd Street and west to Harper Avenue only. The property manager for the Harper Court office tower, at 5235 South Harper Court, announced the change to retail tenants of the property earlier this week, noting that the decision was made after extensive evaluation of the traffic flow.

The change is expected to improve overall traffic flow for motorists visiting businesses facing the private drive, as well as nearby businesses. New signs at each end of the street reflect the one-way flow.

 

Chipotle coming to 53rd Street

Developer Harper Court Partners, LLC, announced today that Chipotle Mexican Grill has signed on as a lead tenant for Harper Court, which is set to open on 53rd Street in 2013.

The popular fast food restaurant will join LA Fitness, Hyatt Place Hotel and the University of Chicago as major tenants. The 53rd Street location will be Chipotle’s second on the South Side of Chicago. 

“It is a nice amenity for the neighborhood and a popular choice here on campus,” said Jim Hennessy, director of commercial real estate for the University of Chicago. “It is also a sign of the enthusiasm major retailers have for the revitalization of 53rd Street and another step toward long-term economic vibrancy here.”

For more information, read Harper Court Partners’ press release.