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A10 Draws Diners To Hyde Park

By Staff in Food on May 28, 2014 6:00PM

Photo courtesy of A10

Hyde Park has always had a lot to offer, but until recently it had trouble bringing in diners from elsewhere in the city. Chef Matthias Merges, of Billy Sunday in Logan Square and Yusho, in Avondale, is one of several restaurateurs with high hopes for Hyde Park as a dining destination for everyone.

Late last year Merges opened A10 on 53rd Street, and he plans to open a second Yusho in Hyde Park in late August. The neighborhood also recently welcomed Porkchop, the second location of Jovanis Bouargoub’s Randolph Street barbecue restaurant and whiskey bar of the same name. The Promontory, a live music venue and restaurant from the great minds behind Longman & Eagle, is also expected to open soon.

Merges had been eyeing Hyde Park for years, and when the University of Chicago began funneling money into developing 53rd Street, he seized the opportunity to establish a presence.

“The risk had been mitigated to a point where we felt very comfortable going into that situation,” Merges says, “a lot of people thought we were crazy.”

A10’s rack of lamb is accompanied by what is undoubtedly the first parsley spaetzle ever to grace Hyde Park, but the restaurant’s arrival is a welcome change for residents craving alternatives to La Petite Folie, Hyde Park’s long-standing token fancy French restaurant.

Merges and his fellow transplants from the north are giving locals more reasons to stay in Hyde Park on date night, but is Hyde Park accessible enough to be Chicago’s next dining hotspot?

Merges thinks yes: “It’s actually faster to get from the Loop to A10 than it is to get to any of our other restaurants.”

But Hyde Park poses logistical challenges for restaurateurs. The bustling stretch of 53rd Street where A10 is located is not easily accessible via the L, and though Hyde Park is only a 15 minute cab ride from the Loop, hailing a cab for your trip home is like lassoing a unicorn.

Nevertheless, diners have declared A10 worth the trek, and most nights reservations are a must. Merges also made wooing local diners a priority. “A lot of residents are very protective of what Hyde Park is, and what’s going to be done,” Merges says, “being able to service the community is paramount to what we do.” To that end, 70 percent of A10’s hires are from Hyde Park and surrounding areas.

“You hear Wicker Park, you think ‘great restaurants.’ Now is when people are building those associations with Hyde Park,” Merges says.

A10 is located at 1462 E 53rd St.

By Lauren Larson