Chef Gordon Ramsay means what he says.
In January, the Michelin-starred chef told the Sun-Times his commitment to Chicago — in the wake of the opening of his Gordon Ramsay Burger — was intended to be a long-term affair. “We have exciting plans for some further restaurants here,” he said at the time.
Now it’s official: Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen is set to open in Chicago early next year.
In an exclusive email interview with the Sun-Times, Ramsay reiterated his determination to make his mark on the local culinary scene.
“I love Chicago. It has such an amazing food culture and I couldn’t think of a better city to continue to grow in. Having visited some restaurants while in town, you can feel the city is ready to get back to the tradition of incredible dining experiences. Maybe this time, Benny the Bull will join us on the line!” (In January, Ramsay visited the United Center and spent some quality on-court time with the Chicago Bulls mascot.)
The restaurant (the original is located in Las Vegas along with four other Ramsay eateries) will be a two-story, 18,000-square-foot space at 508 N. State, the former location of Cantina Laredo. The menu will feature some classics from the Las Vegas location, such as Ramsay’s signature Beef Wellington, and sticky toffee pudding.
“We’ll put some local [Chicago] dishes on as well, but I promise no hot dogs,” Ramsay said, a nod to his hot dog offerings at Burger, which resurrected the whole debate about ketchup’s merits as a hot dog condiment.
For the new venue’s design, Gordon Ramsay North America opted for the Oak Park-based Aria Group Architects, to recreate the familiar look that fans of the Fox reality-competition series from which the restaurant gets its name (and from which Ramsay selects some of the chefs for his culinary empire) will instantly recognize.
“The first level will be focused on the Hell’s Kitchen experience as well as the bar space,” Ramsay said. “It will be like we dropped you on the set of ‘HK.’ On the second floor, we’re looking into an exciting new concept that will seamlessly blend in but have a completely different vibe to it. We will have our signature HK flame upon entering and a vibrant bar scene. We of course have our Red and Blue kitchens, as well as a dramatic illuminated grand stair feature.
“… Where we’ll be opening Hell’s Kitchen in Chicago didn’t feel like the right location for a [Gordon Ramsay Steak] steakhouse, but it has the bones to be one of the best Hell’s Kitchens in America. As soon as I saw the site, I knew Hell’s was coming to Chicago.”
It remains to be seen whether the two restaurants will succeed and maintain the level of success needed for such large footprints (Gordon Ramsay Burger spans 5,000 square feet at its Ontario street site) especially as restaurants are still only slowly emerging from the pandemic shutdowns.
“It’s bold, yes, but we’ve done it before in Las Vegas and more recently we’ve done it as we come out of the pandemic in London,” Ramsay noted. “The industry is recovering but so [are] the guests who have been eager to return to some normalcy and dine out. But trust me, we don’t just rush into these projects; we’ve been working on them months prior to this to make sure we choose the best location and best team.”
Hell’s Kitchen will be located less than half a mile from Gordon Ramsay Burger, something which does not faze the fiery chef, when asked if Chicago is ready for a “Gordon Ramsay District.”
“Does that mean I get a corner named after me? It’s fine. They’re two very different and successful concepts that I hoped Chicago would love (and looks like they are!).”
Ramsay would not confirm if the Chicago location would, on occasion, also serve as a setting for the TV series.
“Stay tuned,” he said.
NOTE: Hell’s Kitchen restaurants will open later this year in Washington, D.C., and Miami.