Uvae (pronounced "ooh-vay") is a popular Andersonville restaurant that has undergone a substantial change. Through Dec. 30, there is now a market next door that sells cheese, charcuterie, gift baskets and, of course, wine. (After all, "uvae" is Latin for grapes.) In addition, there are various upcoming events that are centered around wine.
Windy City Times recently talked with Uvae owner Lindsey Anderson about the restaurant.
Windy City Times: Tell me about the genesis of this place.
Lindsey Anderson: So I've always been in the hospitality industrybartender, server, general manager, that sort of thing. My undergraduate degree is in hospitality, from Kendall College; then I went to Roosevelt University for my master's degree in hospitality.
I then figured it was time to open my own place. We opened in July 2019, so it's been an interesting couple of years.
WCT: How was last year and dealing with the pandemic?
LA: We actually did very well during the pandemic. Our menu's not really conducive as "to-go" food; we tried "to-go" for, like, two days in March 2020, and we got about two orders a day so we decided to close for two weeks. But we got very bored and decided to hold virtual wine tastings.
I also teach a Level I sommelier course at Kendall College, and my assistant sommelier was one of my students. So we held biweekly wine tastings, and it really helped us [increase] our client base. It was truly grassroots marketing; people would tell their friends. The next thing we knew, we were delivering to the South Loop and West Loop.
In December 2020, when we got shut down, we were still okay. We were doing up to four tastings a day; our biggest one was for 200 people. It was crazy! Now, people come from other neighborhoods to see us nowand that's what's led to [what's happening] next door. During the holiday season, when we weren't open, I invited a lot of crafter and artists, and there was a wine-and-cheese market so we could support small, local businesses.
So that's what we're doing now. We're opening a wine-and-cheese store for the holiday season, so people can shop small and local.
WCT: Where do you see your business going, long-term? Are you looking to open other restaurants?
LA: Being a partner in small restaurant groups and managing multiple locationstwo or three at a timewere reasons I wanted to open a restaurant. It's important to me to have relationships with my guests and staffand, with multiple locations, you lose that opportunity; you're spread too thin. So I'm happy just being part of this restaurant.
WCT: What is it about Andersonville that attracts people?
LA: Andersonville is pretty much like a small town in a big city. Everybody pretty much knows each other and is supportive of small businesses, and everybody is community-driven. The chamber of commerce has a lot of initiatives and the neighborhood does a lot of things together, like composting. We and other restaurants throw a lot of food away, so it's important we do a lot of things to be environmentally friendly. Plus, there are plenty of small businesses that have been here for 30 or 40 years, which add to that small-town feellike Hopleaf [Bar] and A Taste of Heaven.
There have been some small changes, but I think they've been for the best.
WCT: What do you want this place to be known for?
LA: I want it to be known as a neighborhood establishment that people can come for any occasion. If you want to just come for a snack after work or a big celebration, we want everyone to feel comfortable.
WCT: Just so our readers know, what are your hours?
LA: We're open Wednesday through Sunday. We do dinner every day at 5 p.m., and we have brunch at 10:30 a.m.
We also have a very, very popular happy hour. At 5-6:30 p.m., we do dollar oysters, dollar shrimp and four-dollar draft prosecco.
WCT: By the way, becoming a sommelier is no joke. It's more than just drinking wine.
LA: Right! There's lots and lots of studyingand drinking wine. [Laughs]
For more on Uvae, visit uvaechicago.com .