The Lettuce Entertain You Group closed one of their restaurants, L20, and re-opened it as Intro. With Intro, Lettuce Entertain You is taking a new approach on fine dining. The premise of the restaurant is rotating chefs. Instead of having one permanent head chef that plans the menus, Intro will change out executive chefs every few months. With each new chef, a new menu and vibe will be introduced.
Intro’s first chef is C.J. Jacobson. He runs a restaurant in California and was on Top Chef Miami. He describes his menu for Intro as “rustic refined.” Jacobson believes in the importance of using local ingredients, and when asked about both his restaurant in California and Intro he explains how his vision for the menu was to go local with his menu. Jacobson’s only problem with that is much of his menu has ingredients that are found more easily in California, such as the popular avocado. To remedy this problem, Jacobson flies in ingredients found more locally in Chicago.
He’s not from the area, and doesn’t want to pretend he is a local. Therefore he is taking it slow and changing his menu as he gets to know the local farmers and what is available to him.
Intro also is different because of its unique beverage pairings. Up-scale restaurants often have wine pairings by a professional sommelier. At Intro, Jacobson has prepared juice pairings for the menu along with the traditional alcoholic beverages that are paired with the menu. In the future with a different head chef, this option may change.
One of the hugest ways Intro varies from most restaurants is its adoption of Nick Kokonas’ Tock system. The Tock system is a new way to pay for your dinner out. The idea is that Intro will have tickets available to pre-purchase table set aside for the Tock system. The tickets would cover a multi-course meal with the aforementioned beverage pairings. The prices would change based on the meal offered and demand. For instance, peak dining hours could be a higher ticket cost. Jacobson in particular is excited for how this system will affect the restaurant’s inner working. He anticipates help with wait times and more efficiency with the balance of ordering ingredients versus the need.
Overall, Lettuce Entertain You is taking its new restaurant in a variety of new ways. A rotating executive chef that offers juice pairings and the idea of tickets to pay for dinner take Intro in a different direction than most local restaurants. It will be interesting to see how the Tock system works out and how each new chef changes Intro’s vibe.
Cavanaugh, A. (2015, February 23). C.J. Jacobson sets a high bar at Intro. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.leye.com/news/lettuce-in-the-news/article/cj-jacobson-sets-high-bar-intro
DeJesus, E. (2014, November 30). Introducing Nick Kokonas's Ticketing System, Tock. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.eater.com/2014/11/30/7294795/introducing-nick-kokonass-ticketing-system-tock
Selvam, A. (2014, December 19). First Intro Chef CJ Jacobson Says He's 'A Guinea Pig' For LEYE's Revolving Chef Concept. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://chicago.eater.com/2014/12/19/7423683/intros-1st-5-course-foray-with-cj-jacobson-will-cost-diners-75-80