Patrick O'Brien, owner of Forest Park's Scratch Kitchen and Oak Park's Scratch on Lake, is almost ready to open his new restaurant, but this time in the Oak Park Arts District.
O'Brien said in a telephone interview that the buildout of District Kitchen and Tap, 220 Harrison St., is complete and they are currently training waiters and cooking staff. He hopes to open the new joint in time for the What's Blooming on Harrison arts festival set for May 19.
The philosophy of the new restaurant, he said, is: "Phones down, bottoms up."
"We've got a junk bucket that we put on the table," he said. "The whole thing is: Put your phone away and talk to people you don't know."
He called the new restaurant a meeting spot for folks in the neighborhood as well as a destination.
O'Brien said nothing has changed in concept since last June when he told Wednesday Journal that patrons would be able to build their own pizza and their own nacho plates. Last year he said that District Kitchen and Tap would also offer "on the dough" salads, which will be served on flavored pizza crusts.
The idea with the made-to-order pizza and nacho plates is "building your own and sharing your food," he said.
District Kitchen has multiple rooms and includes a stage where live acts will perform. He plans to hold open-mic nights, live-band karaoke, DJs and poetry nights.
The full bar will offer 12-14 taps, about 80 percent of which will be provided from breweries within 20 to 30 miles, said O'Brien, adding that the restaurant will a place where you can come in and watch the game in a "totally relaxed and chill" environment.
O'Brien said he's still working to finalize permits with the village of Oak Park, noting, "Come hell or high water, we're going to be open for What's Blooming fest."
In other Scratch news, O'Brien said he recently reduced his liquor license at Scratch Deli in Forest Park to only beer and wine. He chose to remove liquor from the mix because that business is focusing more on catering these days, he said.
"The [catering] business has grown, so it's overtaking the café and becoming a private event space," he said.
"We're finding our niche there," he added.