Ja ‘Grill will open a new location this summer at Ogden Commons
A venerable Jamaican restaurant is opening a second location on the city’s West Side. This summer, Ja ‘Grill – the 14-year-old Hyde Park restaurant – will open a new outpost inside a coming North Lawndale development called Ogden Commons. The 10-acre project, which includes restaurants, retail and residences, is just east of Douglass Park.
From Ja ‘Grill’s original beginnings in Lincoln Park, restaurant owner Tony Coates has built a passionate fan base with Jamaican dishes including plates of jerk chicken, whole red snapper, and a deceptively drizzled Ja’ Rum Punch. The second location will remain true to the qualities that made it successful, but it won’t be a carbon copy of the Hyde Park spot, Coates says. Ja ‘Grill has left Lincoln Park in 2014 for Hyde Park.
“We create an authentic Jamaican experience with food, spirits and ambiance,” he says. “It will be the same, but with a few more surprises.”
Coates was shy of what these surprises might be, but said the new location at 1407 S. Washtenaw Avenue in North Lawndale will have more character and design elements than the “cookie-cutter” space. which he occupies in Hyde Park in the Harper Court center which belongs to the University of Chicago. The new location will feature large windows that open to promote air circulation and can accommodate around 100 people indoors with outdoor patio seating.
The new restaurant will open inside the first stage of the $ 200 million Ogden Commons project: a three-story building with 50,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Other tenants will include Steak n ‘Shake and Wintrust Bank, with additional space leased from Sinai Health System (the building is a short walk from Mount Sinai Hospital) and Cinespace Chicago Film Studio – who are also development partners, with Chicago Housing Authority and local real estate company The Habit Company.
Next steps are expected to include 120,000 square feet of commercial space and over 350 mixed-income housing units on 10 acres of land near the 2600 block of West Ogden Avenue. The property previously housed the now razed Ogden Courts and Lawndale Public Housing estates. The partners aim to complete the development in 2026.
Ja ‘Grill gives the area a rare option to sit down and could be a boon to attendees of Riot Fest, the music festival that returns in September. There is an unintended synergy with a few ska groups, such as Hepcat, in the festival lineup.
Ja ‘Grill inside Ogden Commons, 1407 S. Washtenaw Avenue, scheduled to open this summer.