A restaurant concept nearly a decade in the making comes to life in Jefferson Park. This modern eatery aims to open its doors Mid-May with an eclectic menu rooted in Latin cuisine. We caught up with Salud's co-founder Michael Melnick to better understand the story behind this venture.
"Right before covid hit, our concept was Salud Kitchen & Tequila bar. It was supposed be downtown but once the pandemic took storm we had to reevaluate everything. It was a blessing in disguise because our food is the star of the show. And, our brand is more rooted in our cuisine rather than the Tequila."
The spark for the menu concept of Salud Kitchen began years ago when Melnick learned of a hidden restaurant tucked away inside of Guatemalan bakery: a taqueria known as "The Birria Connect." After sampling the tacos and learning that the recipe was passed down from Chef David Jauregui's grandmother in Jalisco, Melnick became an investor in "The Birria Connect," in a newly formed partnership.
Over time the taqueria developed a cult following and outgrew its space inside the bakery. This prompted Michael to share with his partners the idea for Salud Kitchen. After a discussion between Melnick, Chef David and his partner Ryan Aitelhadj, plans began to take shape.
Nearly three months were spent on expanding the menu from tacos into a multitude of new options. The recipes passed down for generations were kept, while modern fusion ideas like "Birria Ramen" were added. With Chicago being a culinary pillar, it became important to both the Head Chef and Melnick to respect the past, while welcoming new ideas.
( Photography by Danny Cantu )
To match the restaurant's modern, yet traditional concept, Chicago street artist RAWOOH created an inspiring mural to welcome guests as they enter the restaurant. Rooted in traditional Mexican culture, the artist transformed the dress into feathered wings, creating an interactive experience for diners.