Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
“I didn’t want to do faux anything,” says Cyrus Rab. The co-owner of Chicago's Indie Burger took over the design direction at the new Lakeview area spot after his first designer delivered a less than stellar scheme that seemed to obviously crib from an already existing nearby burger joint. While some elements from that original design were retained—a wall sculpture made from reused books by a Midwestern artist, for example—the original designer's suggestions for faux finishes were not.
Chicago’s Indie Burger prides itself on its 90% organic menu and 100% organic piedmontese beef from Blackwing Quality Meats. Co-owners Cyrus Rab and Jeff Kopiwoda got into the niche business after becoming dads. Rab was dealing with his kid’s food allergies while Kopiwoda simply wanted natural food for his youngsters. They've gone the extra mile with the organic ethic. The restaurant makes everything but the organic ketchup and mustard in house—including sauces, beef bacon and dressings. Cheese is from Wisconsin and buns from West Town Bakery. Chicken is all natural and free range, and the fries come from organic potatoes. It touts its composting and recycling, washes glasses and plates rather than offering disposable versions and claims it offers a close to zero-waste dining experience.
The restaurant’s organic ethic is mirrored in Rab’s design decisions. He chose 111 Navy chairs by Emeco made from recycled Coke bottles and reworked pews from a South Side-based Haitian church congregation for seating, adorned the walls in reclaimed barn wood from Minnesota and used various materials such as aged Douglas Fir from Chicago’s Rebuilding Exchange in the interior. The dining tables, from a defunct Italian restaurant, were stripped. Ecodwell did the build-out and built custom elements such as the bench from reclaimed wood. The rustic work stools up front were sourced from Overstock.com.
The burger joint’s indie rock theme takes form in a wall section emblazoned with rock gig posters and the chalkboard lists upcoming area shows. What’s more, Rab beams with extra pride when he lets slip that Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has been in to pick up orders.
But there is one thing Rab has to get off his chest. It's the flooring:“I have to make a confession, the tile is Italian.”