You can imagine LiteHouse Whole Food Grill owner Erik “Rico” Nance’s surprise when CNN called early this week to get his approval to visit the restaurant this Sunday, October 11, to film a “Parts Unknown” television segment with Anthony Bourdain, the respected chef, best-selling author, and multiple Emmy-winning television personality.
Located at 1373 E. 53rd Street, the LiteHouse will be featured on an upcoming Chicago episode at the suggestion of Lupe Fiasco, the well-known Chicago Grammy-nominated rap artist, record producer, and entrepreneur, who will introduce Bourdain to the restaurant’s menu of healthy salads, wraps, bowls, burritos, tacos, nachos, pizzas, and more.
CNN had sent producers to the restaurant at the end of September to look at the space, but Nance was not there at the time, so their subsequent call came as a very exciting surprise to him.
Fiasco is a long-time customer of the LiteHouse, and in addition to being a fan of their healthfully prepared food, he values the restaurant’s community-minded mission in feeding 20,000 homeless and less fortunate people since the business opened in Hyde Park nearly three years ago. Nance opened the restaurant “…with the hope of bringing healthy fast food to his community in the most wholesome way,” according to his website. He makes it a practice to hire the homeless as well as recovering drug addicts and says these individuals have been some of his best employees.
Nance “treats everyone as if they were the President,” and serves about 20-30 free meals a day to the hungry and homeless, who order from their regular menu with the rest of the customers. Customers who want to support this mission have the option to “go premium” and add $2.50 to their bill to defray the cost of the free meals.
A resident of the South Loop, Nance spent all his summers in Hyde Park with his aunt and has great affection for the area. The restaurant is closed on Saturday during the day for religious observances, and during that time he opens the space for community events including motivational speakers, spiritual yoga, a “Dance Against Violence” program, as well as family events such as weddings and baby showers. The restaurant reopens at 7 p.m., staying open until midnight.
CNN will be at the restaurant from about 9:30 a.m. until approximately 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The LiteHouse will be open for regular business and customers and fans are welcome to come in and watch the filming as space permits. For those who want to stay longer, Nance is holding about 15 seats that can be reserved by contacting the restaurant through its Facebook and Instagram accounts.