New BBQ, Speakeasy Opening Soon in Forest Park: Piggyback Tavern

Owners say Forest Park's Piggyback Tavern will offer an experience like no other around town.

Sometimes the right place to open your business finds you. When that's the case, plans are thrown to the wind and you just get things done.

That's according to Lake Street Kitchen + Bar owner, Rachel Dennis about her new Forest Park restaurant and bar, Piggyback Tavern, 410 Circle Ave., set to open in mid-November.

"I might not have done another [restaurant] so soon," Dennis said recently at Lake Street Kitchen + Bar. "But I just loved the space."

Dennis first saw Piggyback's home when she was scouting locations for Lake Street Kitchen + Bar, but the space was unavailable at the time. When an opportunity came to take it over, Dennis jumped in feet first.

"[Piggyback] will be a place you can go for excellent food and drink, but it will be causal too," Dennis said. "It will be homey, but cool."

Dennis is hoping to attract clientele that might head to restaurants like Honky Tonk or the Publican in Chicago for a night of fun and fine dining, but who would welcome the opportunity to stay a little closer to home. Out of towners are welcome as well, of course.

"It fills a need in the area," Dennis added. "BBQ is a missed cuisine out here."

BBQ and Tacos Smoked Right

BBQ aficionados will be pleased to see the presence of not one, but two giant smokers in house that will be cooking your meal to perfection.

"We're going to be smoking a lot of meat," head chef Jason Kurosaki said with a grin as we talked over the menu. "We want to do BBQ really well, not reinvent the wheel. It's perfect as it is."

Kurosaki, who is also the head chef at Lake Street Kitchen + Bar, has a mean resume to back up his talk. Formerly employed at Avec in Chicago and coming from southern roots, he's a chef that knows how to cook well and make it authentic.

As a bonus, the kitchen at Piggyback is open to the restaurant, so you can watch your meat being prepared before you get to dig in. How's that for help building an appetite?

The menu will largely be made up of staples like pulled pork, brisket, burgers and the like, with entrees priced in the $14-25 range. But tacos, available for $2-3, are also found on the menu and will be a staple, Kurosaki said.

Food, Sure... But the Drink Menu?!

While smoked meat takes center stage at Piggyback, there should be no concern that you wont have plenty of options of what to wash it all down with.

Piggyback will offer over 40 beers to choose from: 20 on tap and between 20-30 varieties in cans. If you like something a little stiffer with your pulled pork, reach for one of the 20 bourbons that will be available upon opening, or the 14 varieties of tequila, and that's just to start, Dennis said.

Drinks First in the Lounge

Head downstairs at Piggyback and it's like entering a whole new place. The lounge will feature a speakeasy aesthetic with a focus on cocktails and higher end bottled beer.

Think bacon flavored bourbon, moonshine cocktails and martinis with wood smoked olives.

The plan is for Piggyback to be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, effectively making it into a spot that can cater to Forest Park's lunch crowd and those looking for a nightlife scene as well.

Above all else, Dennis hopes offer an experience that is relaxing, fun and a seriously good place to eat and drink.

"We want to be a neighborhood place—that's the goal," she said.

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