Beard & Belly was founded in 2015 by chefs Kyle Schrage and Jim Torres. The Longroom, an established and respected craft beer bar and Chicago staple, embarked on an experimental project, building a kitchen space inside their bar, with plans to allow different chefs to operate their business out of that kitchen. Although originally the plan was to have multiple chefs work out of the space, Beard & Belly quickly established themselves among the Longroom’s customer base, and became the only chefs to serve at night, 6 days a week. After two and a half successful years at The Longroom, and having built a dedicated fan base, Beard & Belly decided it was time to open its own, stand alone bar and restaurant.
Beard & Belly will provide a concentrated menu of slow cooked quality tavern oriented food. Beard & Belly has competed in and won the award for “Best Grilled Cheese in Chicago”, our Mac and Cheese was voted in the top three in the city, and the burger was listed as one of the top 10 in Chicago by TimeOut Chicago Magazine. Beard & Belly was also featured on WGN’s Lunch Break afternoon segment, where its unique take on a spicy pickled egg was highlighted.
Our menu will be consistent yet flexible, with constantly rotating specials to supplement our well established food items. We use extremely high quality, fresh ingredients, and everything in our kitchen is made from scratch. We cook our food slowly and with care, making sure that every item that goes out of our kitchen is of the highest quality.
In addition to serving the high quality food that they have become known for, Beard & Belly has formed a partnership with Honeypie Bakery, an iconic establishment in the Bayview neighborhood of Milwaukee. Honeypie is not only well known in Milwaukee, but its incredible pies have been featured in multiple national publications, including Martha Steward Living, O Magazine, Food and Wine, and TimeOut National. Together Honeypie and Beard & Belly will provide the Edgewater community with a unique dining experience. A beautiful bar and restaurant space for people to enjoy, a full service and spacious patio during the warmer months, and a walk-up bakery counter serving fresh made fruit and cream pies.
Kyle Schrage (The Beard): Kyle Schrage graduated from the University of Illinois with an bachelor's degree in Food Science with a emphasis in Hospitality Management, and has 15 years experience in the restaurant industry. Kyle has extensive beer knowledge along with front of the house experience as a bartender and beer buyer at places that include In Fine Spirits, Farmhouse Evanston, and Dovetail Brewery. In 2011, Kyle and Andrew Barbera founded the Omnivorous Culinary Fellowship, a Chicago based pop-up restaurant group. They went on to successfully put on over 20 private, invitation only fine dining events in Chicago. He also has experience working as a chef in multiple kitchens, including Fountainhead, where he met Jim Torres. In 2015 Kyle and Jim Torres founded Beard and Belly and operated out of the Sidecar at The Longroom. During his time at the Longroom, Beard and Belly cultivated a devout fan base, and their time there was a huge success for both Beard and Belly and The Longroom.
Jim Torres (The Belly): Jim Torres has over 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry, and is an alumnus of Kendall College culinary program in Chicago. Jim has worked all over the city of Chicago as a chef, including stints at Red Light, Fountainhead, Graham Elliot Bistro, and Table 52 working under Chef Art Smith. As a chef trained in the classic French style, Jim relies on his extensive knowledge of the basics to produce big, bold flavors, with a focus on American comfort food classics. Along with Kyle Schrage, Jim is an original founder of Beard and Belly, and was the lead chef while designing Beard and Belly’s menu.
Andrew Barbera: Andrew Barbera has 17 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He has extensive experience as a general manager and bartender and has designed successful craft cocktail programs for multiple bars and restaurants in Chicago and Milwaukee. During his time as general manager of Fat Cat in Uptown, Andrew was responsible for reinventing Fat Cat’s cocktail program, and he won the award for “Best Bloody Mary in the City” at Chicago’s Best Bloody Mary Competition hosted at Park West. Andrew’s focus is on using fresh, simple ingredients to create traditional and classic cocktails, done to perfection. Together with Kyle Schrage, Andrew designed and created the concept for the Omnivorous Culinary Fellowship, a pop-up restaurant group that has hosted over 20 invitation only fine dining events throughout the city of Chicago.
Valeri Lucks: Valeri Lucks is the owner and operator of two restaurant staples of Milwaukee, Honeypie and Palomino, and has been in the industry for over 12 years. In addition to being an owner and operator, Val is also the mastermind and head baker responsible for the pies that have made Honeypie and Palomino famous. Her pies have been featured in multiple national publications, including: Food & Wine, Martha Stewart, the Travel Channel, The Week, TimeOut Chicago, Food Network Magazine, USA Today, and Oprah Magazine. In addition, TimeOut USA named the Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie as the 4th best pie in America. Val’s passion for the industry and her love of baking have allowed her to create an instantly recognizable brand throughout Milwaukee, and she is extremely excited to bring that brand to Chicago and the Edgewater neighborhood.