New restaurant hopes to create buzz in Bronzeville

After being involved the restaurant and lounge business for the past 15 years, Tony Glenn said he felt a venue that provides casual dining, good cuisine and live entertainment was missing on the South Side.

After being involved the restaurant and lounge business for the past 15 years, Tony Glenn said he felt a venue that provides casual dining, good cuisine and live entertainment was missing on the South Side.

“A lot of people on the South Side go to the North Side because we didn’t have a place readily available in the South Loop,” Glenn told the Defender.

With Bronzeville experiencing a recent upswing in economic development, Glenn decided the area would be a perfect spot for the new L26 Restaurant and Lounge.

“The neighborhood has come a long way in terms of becoming more upscale and we just want to be part of that trend,” said Glenn, the restaurant and lounge’s owner.

Located at 26th and State Streets inside the South Loop Hotel, the 5,600-square foot restaurant seats 205 people and features a cozy dining room, a sleek lounge area and a modern bar decked out with soothing earth tone d%uFFFDcor and abstract artwork designed by African American artists.

Glenn explained the idea for the name of his restaurant came after sitting at one of the tables at the restaurant while looking outside the window at an “el” train coming down the track that overlooked the venue.

The L26 menu, which includes a silhouette of 26th Street sign and the “el” train, features decently priced American fare such as steak, chicken, seafood, lamb chops and jambalaya.

“It’s none of that nouveau cuisine. It’s simple American food served in a casual fine dining setting,” Glenn said.

Since the restaurant’s opening in July, the venue has experienced steady foot traffic. The restaurant’s customer demographic base is 70 percent African American while 30 percent is tourists and other residents from the nearby Bronzeville, Bridgeport and Chinatown communities, according to Glenn.

However, Glenn says he hopes to make an even bigger splash when L26 hosts its official grand opening in October. By that time, he hopes to have expanded the restaurant’s hours to include breakfast and lunch, and feature a sign displayed on the State Street side of the restaurant, a sidewalk caf%uFFFD and a jazz and gospel buffet.

“My main goal is to have a long-lasting restaurant catered…to serve affordable casual dining at a comfortable place where people can jump in their cab or walk out of their condo to enjoy that experience,” the restaurateur said.

While L26 is also in the final stages of launching an official website, customers and employees have boosted advertising through word-of-mouth, the Internet, and the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The L26 is currently open for dinner from Sunday through Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 11 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. The lounge operates daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender (Defender/Lesley Chinn)

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