After September 10, Ben Pao will be no more. According to Crain’s, the 15-year-old Lettuce Entertain You restaurant will be rebranded by Jerrod and R. J. Melman. In a few years, one probably won’t be able to walk through River North without stumbling over a bustling, impossibly hip restaurant by the brothers; they’ve already worked their magic on Hub 51 and Paris Club, and are now setting their sights on Ben Pao. So, what is this one going to be like?
Talking to the Tribune, R.J. Melman was adamant that he was “not at liberty to talk about the concept at all.” All he could say was that it would “be fun.” The same official veil of secrecy was extended to Crain’s. But the business newspaper claims that two confidential sources related that it “may be a sushi or an Italian restaurant.” Honestly, we’d rather see the Chinese concept updated than for it to turn into another Italian restaurant. Of course, considering the success the two have had thus far, we are in no position to offer business advice.
As for Ben Pao, this move is not totally surprising. It has never been quite as beloved as Brasserie Jo, which was converted into Paris Club last year. Still, it always seems to have a crowd. You’ll have until September 10 to wish it goodbye.