Tommy Lee, the restaurateur behind the popular Uncle and Hop Alley, is finally pulling the trigger on a second location of his five year old ramen shop. Twice the size of the original at 2,800 square feet, Uncle 2.0 will be located in West Wash Park on the corner of Pennsylvania and Bayaud. Wrigley on Penn, a new condo development with first floor retail will be home to the cultish eatery that still draws massive wait times every day of the week at its LoHi outpost.
“The goal is to keep the same intimacy and energy that we have at the LoHi one,” Lee says of his upcoming venue. “Even though the space is much larger, we are only planning on about 75-80 seats, which is not much bigger than what we have now when the patio is open.”
The upcoming venue will not have a patio but Lee is hoping to create an indoor-outdoor feel for the warmer months with the help of folding sliding door system like the Nana walls. Nguyen Lawrence, a local architect that also helped designed Hop Alley, has been tapped to design the space that will have its own unique identity rather than mimic the LoHi one. “I want the same feel of intimacy but I am not one to repeat things the same way, so we’re going with a different look for the new one,” Lee shared.
A few things are for sure: The kitchen at the Wash Park Uncle will be twice the size, there will be room for Lee and his staff to have an actual office, and there will be a bar, where guests could wait for a table while enjoying a drink.
As for the menu, Lee is committed to keeping the restaurant’s mission clear: “We might do specials - say a steak for two one night- but our goal is to remain very much a ramen shop. It will be nice to have the room to do different things but the plan for the menu is to have about 60% or more of the things we serve at the original one.”
There is one catch: The 427 East Bayaud space will not be ready until the summer of 2018.