Mordecai opens on Saturday at the Hotel Zachary.
For the sake of balance, Matthias Merges now has a restaurant/bar named after a former Cubs and a former White Sox player. Billy Sunday in Logan Square is one of the city’s most influential cocktail bars and is named after the former White Stockings player who crusaded for temperance in the 1880s. Building on that momentum, Merges and Folkart Restaurant Management (Old Irving Brewing, Gideon Sweet) have created Mordecai, a palace of bourbon and cocktail culture right across from Wrigley Field inside the Hotel Zachary. The two-level space is named after ace pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and manages to honor the game while also sheltering customers from the typical raucous crowds of fans found on any given summer night outside of The Friendly Confines.
Mordecai opens on Saturday and a patio will debut later this spring. Like Merges’s previous projects, the new space demonstrates thoughtful research that explores culinary and neighborhood histories. Folkart enlisted fcSTUDIO for this project. That’s the firm owned by Rachel Crowl, Merges’s wife. FcStudio’s Julie Fisher said they didn’t want to mimic the early 1900s when Brown pitched. Instead they celebrated an “unapologetically modern” bar that’s influenced by baseball. But, besides the historic photos on the wall, the space doesn’t hit customers over the head with sports references. Take a look at the back of the banquette seats. There’s pinstripes and the use of chestnut leather was influenced by baseball gloves.
“But these’s also a classiness and attention to detail represented in the space that would have been found in the baseball crowd of that era, when men wore suits to games,” Fisher said.
Chef Jared Wentworth has found a home at Mordecai. Best known for bringing Longman & Eagle to Michelin-star status in Logan Square, his food was most recently tasted at Regards to Edith in Fulton Market. His menu includes a Crackerjack doughnut and porchetta. During Cubs gamedays, the menu will shrink. Folkart knows about the Cubs crowds. Last year, they opened Lucky Dorr, the craft beer bar at The Park at Wrigley.