Windy City Pie owner Dave Lichterman swore he’d never do a full-on restaurant. And yet the guy behind the city’s best Chicago-style pizza is doing just that. In early 2019, the counter within Batch 206 distillery will relocate from Interbay to the former home of Phinney Market Pub and Eatery at 5918 Phinney Avenue North.
The new incarnation of Windy City Pie won’t be as overtly kid-riffic as the address's previous occupant, which boasted a play area complete with a train table. But the 60ish-seat pizza destination will be a major culture shift, especially without the "no minors" requirement that comes with running an operation from a distillery tasting room.
Lichterman credits Batch 206 for saving his business when he lost his original commissary kitchen back in 2016, those early days when customers might order online, then meet up with the Chicago north side native on a random street corner for a pizza handoff. But the business is outgrowing the kitchen, and Lichterman wants to give his staff more workspace and expand his menu—more salads and even nonpizza entrees down the road. He’ll still encourage people to order pies ahead online, especially since those behemoths take a while to bake. But eating that pizza in house will soon involve servers bringing food and refreshing your drinks as needed.
“There’s value to bringing a pizza out to people directly,” says Lictherman, who likes to school diners on how to slice something so unwieldy and the precisely wrought chemical reaction that bestows that layer of crisped cheese around the crust. “The best part is educating them on a thing that looks intimidating.”
At Windy 2.0, Lichterman will also do his own bar program—that’s the thing he always swore off, for fear of all the logistics involved. It will definitely include Jeppson's Malört, Chicago’s perversely beloved hometown spirit, with a wormwood-based flavor that makes Fireball, Underberg, and a pile of flaming tires seem subtle by comparison. He’s adding booths, which he terms “quintessential pizza things,” but the addition that has him most excited isn’t something you’ll see in the dining room.
When Windy City Pie opens on Phinney, it will have a walk-in cooler solely for dough. Nothing is certain at this early stage, but extra real estate could mean the sourdough pies at Windy’s superb spinoff, Breezy Town Pizza, inside the Clock-Out Lounge on Beacon Hill, could pop up here, too.
Lichterman’s deep-dish pies are destination worthy, no question. But the new location also gives Phinney Ridge one hell of a neighborhood pizza restaurant. One that will channel the owner's hometown love in ways beyond just those magnificent pies. He promises, no Ditka shrines or Superfan tchotchkes. “I’m trying to figure out how to make it the right homage without making it like a TGI Friday’s.”
Look for the new Windy City Pie to debut in the first weeks of 2019.