While others are shutting down, two brothers with a dream are opening Chicago’s first restaurant post-COVID. Opening July 7, PB&J is Chicago’s newest hangout specializing in its namesake areas: Pizza, Beer, and Jukebox. Founded by seasoned industry veterans, Matthew and Josh McCahill, guests can enjoy Neapolitan style pizzas, cold beer on tap, craft cocktails and a state-of-the-art TouchTunes Jukebox, with all the latest and greatest hits at this new hangout located in the heart of the West Loop at 205 North Peoria Street.
When PB&J opens July 7, the eatery will start with dinner service only. Beginning July 14, it will be open for lunch and dinner from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily, while offering the neighborhood a brand new spot to catch up with friends and family. The concept comes from seasoned industry veterans and brothers, Matthew McCahill and Josh McCahill, featuring retractable walls to make diners feel as if they are dining alfresco on one of Chicago’s liveliest streets.
Plans for lunch will be a quick-serve style, allowing diners to practice safe social distancing by ordering food and drinks at the cashier, paying ahead and, then choosing a place to sit.
PB&J will offer a variety of small bites, sandwiches, gourmet burgers, and specialty pizzas such as the “Brie Castle” vegetarian pizza that tastes almost like a white castle burger, topped with caramelized onion and brie cheese. The menu will also include sandwiches such as “The Smoker” which features a barbecue burger, 8 oz house blend beef and house-smoked pork brisket, topped with spicy barbecue sauce, and crispy fried onion rings. Chef David Blonsky has joined the team as a chef consultant for PB&J. Previously, he oversaw the kitchens for Chicago staples such as Siena Tavern, Public House, and Quartino.
Other exciting features of PB&J include guests being able to curate their soundtrack on the restaurant jukebox, or taking a seat at the sprawling circular bar. Guests will be able to choose from a large selection of 24 beers offered on tap, as well as enjoy a cocktail while overlooking the neon sign and lyrics wall.
PB&J will offer numerous themed nights and nightly promotions including “Jukebox Gone Country,” which kicks off on July 8 featuring BBQ food, staff dressed in southern attire, and you guessed it, country music. Cheap Date Tuesday’s will start on July 14, and include $2 PBR’s and PB&J’s from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
“We’re excited to open our doors to the neighborhood and give people a place to gather again,” says Co-owner Josh McCahill.
“We put a lot of time and effort in ensuring that safety is our top priority for our staff members and diners. Besides following all of the mandated regulations, we are installing ultra-violet light in the air ducts to neutralize airborne bacteria. There will be QR codes on each table for contact ”less” ordering. We will be offering to pay the cost for our staff to get tested for COVID-19 before starting work.”
PB&J will also offer private event spaces, including the raised pool table area that hosts up to 30 people, and the dining room will seat up to 50. For larger parties, full buy-outs are available for hosting up to 200 of their closest friends and coworkers for a night they won’t forget.
In anticipation of dining at PB&J, I interviewed Matthew McCahill, part of the brother culinary duo whose visions have brought the restaurant to life:
PB&J – Pizza, Beer and Jukebox – what inspired the theme?
PB&J is a double entendre. It is a lot of people’s favorite things. This restaurant will be for everybody. People love social spaces, and this is a place for them to hang out and enjoy food, pizza and beer.
What is your background in the restaurant industry?
I started in fine dining for Nick’s Fish Market in Chicago and also for Wolfgang Puck and Chef Emeril Lagasse at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Josh was a bartender for the Godfrey Hotel in Chicago. I was also the managing partner of Prost! Josh was my roommate while working for Charlie Trotter.
What made you settle on the West Loop for your location?
The West Loop was perfect as it is a neighborhood and local hangout in Chicago. There’s a little something for everyone there. PB&J is going to be a new local, casual hang out. Besides dining, there will be pool tables and TVs for guests to watch sports games.
What risks and obstacles did you face opening a new restaurant during this pandemic?
We’re all in on this-either we make it or we tap out. When we first wanted to open, we started thinking it would only be three weeks of turmoil, and then get back to business. We plan to open and hope for the best!
Which beer, cocktail and food items on the new menu are you most excited about?
Our stouts are amazing, creamy and delicious. We will offer a fully loaded baked potato pizza and a smoked salmon pizza. We also have a gooey grilled cheese, which is inspired from one I had at Disney Land and wanted to recreate it! We’re also excited for our 24 beer tap system and the Morelli Italian oven, used especially for the Neapolitan pizza. We also featured a Smoked BBQ burger and even have a cauliflower pizza crust with beet sauce!
Tell me a bit more about how the Touch Tones Jukebox will work for customers…
The jukebox is the digital-center of the dining room. You put a dollar in and choose your songs. You have the option of using cash or credit cards at your table (for contactless paying).
Photos: Kira Anderson unless otherwise noted.
To find out more about PB&J or to make a reservation, please contact the restaurant with the phone number below or at the website.
PB&J – Pizza, Beer and Jukebox 205 North Peoria Street Chicago, IL, 60607 Phone: 312-498-7080