Oak + Char is a 9,500 square foot upscale neighborhood Tavern and Grill featuring wines aged in oak barrels, whiskeys cured in charred oak and a menu riffing on Chicago; locally sourced ingredients in classic regional dishes inflected with the myriad immigrant cultures of the city.
The design of this 5,200 square foot, 160 seat restaurant is inspired by the menu and the emergence of the city from the great Chicago Fire of 1871. The budget for construction, fixtures furniture and equipment was $427,000.00.
The plan sets four open but intimate ‘rooms’ within an open room in a repurposed heavy timber and masonry industrial loft. The bar and large dining room feature high tavern seating.
All design elements are custom; hand-made by Chicagoans working with locally sourced and often reclaimed solid materials designed to improve with patinas over time: millwork composed of white oak slabs from a tree felled by lightning, or hot rolled steel with cast hinges and oak legs; partitions of 3 1/2” thick carved, charred and oiled Douglas fir; custom ‘Stockyard’ stools of leather, cast-steel and solid oak ‘spurs’; cubist oak-leaf door pulls, table lamps inspired by lone oak trees carved from oak, cast in 94% recycled and “murdered out” with acid; linen sound-absorbing “cloud” pendants to attenuate sound; murals of abstracted acorns, oak bark and leaves; a bar of reclaimed 60 year-old African Ironwood and common brick wall colors amplified with pigment; wool felt partitions.
A Chicago Tavern and Grill. Chicago burned in 1871 and from the charred remains emerged one of the first modern cities, a city described by Mayor Daley as a mosaic of ethnic neighborhoods. Chicago is interpreted here with Midwestern inflected by a myriad of cultures. The food is cooked over open fire, in clay pots, in tandoor ovens with burning wood inside. Dishes are flavored with the smoke of pear wood and maple wood. Oak + Char features wines and whiskeys aged in oak and charred oak barrels.
A Chicago tavern and grill in a repurposed heavy timber industrial loft composed of Douglas fir and Chicago common brick and steel in the shadow of the mass transit train elevated on riveted steel.
A Chicago design recalling the Chicago fire and celebrating the oak used to age the wine and spirits and cook and season farmer’s meats and produce.
A design hand-made in Chicago… cabinets and live-edge tables wrought from a white oak trunk of a local tree felled by lightning, cut into 2 1/2” slabs and kiln dried…reworked cast off stools… cubist oak leaf door pulls and table lamps suggesting lone oak trees hand carved from wood and cast in recycled metals in Chicago and burned with acid…candelabras with glass formed in Chicago gas fire…linen chandeliers in the form of woodsmoke clouds…murals of oak bark and acorns, of oak leaves…a bar top of African Ironwood reclaimed from highway barriers…
Tavern style high tables
Recycled barstools: created from recycled backless barstools: sand blasted wood and re-stained leather, with new backs composed of hand bent hot rolled steel channel and oak framed winged back rests upholstered in brown wool limousine fabric with cast aluminum and solid oak “spurs” to stabilize them.
High banquettes of brown wool mohair and welded structural steel bases suggestive of the 100 year old elevated train structure outside.
Oak Tree table lamps on fire sculpted wood
Chandeliers of linen in the form of smoke clouds
Featuring a bar-top of reclaimed African Ironwood brought to Chicago 60 years ago as exterior highway partitions, and hot rolled steel cabinets and bar die panels and brick hand worked with chalk and paint to amplify the Naples yellow and pale orange and burnt red of Chicago common brick
EXISTING BUILDING 217 West Huron Street in Chicago’s River North Neighborhood
100 year old heavy timber loft composed of Douglas fir columns, beams, joists and decking; steel and Chicago common brick
Douglas fir, steel frame, aluminum-magnesium letters
Waterjet cut hot rolled steel plate
Charred Douglas fir
Steel and glass partition
Cubist oak leaf door pull hand carved in oak, cast in 94% recycled aluminum-magnesium alloy in Chicago, hand polished and “murdered out” to a matte black finish with acid, sealed with beeswax and filed bright on the edges
White oak slab podium with slotted joinery
Oak Tree table lamp: a 100% raw linen shade and a base that was hand carved in oak, cast in 94% recycled aluminum-magnesium alloy in Chicago, hand polished and “murdered out” to a matte black finish with acid and then sealed with beeswax
Walls of charred and scraped Douglas fir with oak leaf sculptures which were hand-carved in oak, cast in 94% recycled aluminum-magnesium alloy in Chicago and burnished
A coat room partition of red, 3/8” thick, 100% wool felt pinched with bolts and bronze nuts with an acid washed patina
WEST DINING ROOM
Partitions of 3 1/2” thick, fire-sculpted Douglas fir slabs, hand scraped and sealed with nut oil
Chairs created from recycled backless barstools: sand blasted wood and re-stained leather, with new backs composed of hand bent hot rolled steel channel and oak framed winged back rests upholstered in brown wool limousine fabric with cast aluminum and solid oak “spurs” to stabilize them
Cloud chandeliers composed of steel and six layers of fireproofed linen
Sealed concrete floor
Common brick with colors amplified by chalk
White oak live edge table tops cut from the trunk of a north-side Chicago tree felled in an electrical storm, cut into 2.5” thick slabs and kiln dried, sanded smooth
Burning Oak Candelabras composed of glass hand blown in Chicago, and a base that was hand-carved in oak, cast in 94% recycled aluminum-magnesium alloy in Chicago, hand polished and “murdered out” to a matte black finish with acid and then sealed with beeswax
New Operable window system at the facade
PRIVATE DINING ROOM
A steel and glass partition with cast cubist oak leaf door pulls and murals of stylized oak bark, acorns and oak leaves
Hot rolled steel partitions
Steel and copper oak leaf wall
Porcelain tile floor and wall finishesVanities composed of white oak slab with hand carved sinks cast in Chicago in 94% recycled aluminum-magnesium alloy and hand finished
Interior Architecture / Interior Design: Jordan Mozer & Associates, Ltd
Architect of Record: Jeffrey W Carloss, Architect PC
Lighting Design: Jordan Mozer & Associates, Ltd
Furniture Design: Jordan Mozer & Associates, Ltd
Artwork: Jordan Mozer & Associates, Ltd
Product Design and Associated Manufacturing: Mozer Studios
JMA Team: Jeff Carloss, Jordan Mozer, Karen Mozer, John Clark, Peter Ogbac, Dennis Davies
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: JackLee Construction
OWNERS: MBL Partners
CHEF: Joe Heppe
MIXOLOGIST: Mae Governale
Photography: John Clark, Eliza Mozer