Behind the scenes with Prime 100 winner 016 Restaurant | Yelp

Picture from 016 Cafe & Sandwich Retailer
016 Restaurant & Sandwich Retailer in Chicago ranked #25 on Yelp’s Prime rated 100 Areas to Soak up in 2022.
Take a look at out the entire itemizing of winners.

Important enterprise enterprise takeaways

  • If you wish to pivot your group product in a pinch, use your present property to diversify earnings streams 
  • Remodeling a 2nd-era area—particularly a single with primarily one explicit with explicit touches or related wants—can help you get began out on a price range 
  • Courting an even bigger clientele doesn’t should imply sacrificing customized: At 016, Serbian grilling approaches type the idea for the chef’s new recipes and farm-to-desk creations 

016 Restaurant & Sandwich Store—named instantly after the spot code of the chef’s hometown of Leskovac, Serbia—has some factor that no different cafe in Chicago can assert: a 4,000-pound meat smoker. It’s 21 toes prolonged, rather more than a century outdated, and so large that 016’s meat output supervisor has to make use of a ladder to entry it. Beneath the helm of chef Bojan Milicevic, the smoker lends taste to a few of the restaurant’s signature dishes: smoked sausages, charcuterie, and deli meat bought by the pound within the sandwich retailer following door.

However the smoker just isn’t the one distinctive part of this firm, which secured the twenty fifth location on Yelp’s Main 100 Spots to Eat in 2022. 016 brings collectively conventional Serbian grilling methods and the chef’s instructing as a butcher—making sausage and charcuterie from scratch—to conjure a method of property for Serbian-American diners. 

Chicago has one explicit of the nation’s most important Serbian populations, fairly a number of of whom flock to the restaurant to decide on comfort in outdated favorites, Milicevic defined. However the wonderful of the meals and Milicevic’s signature touches speak to only about each shopper, whether or not or not they’re Serbian or not. 

“I would like nearly each dish on a menu to have something that’s impressed by Serbia,” Milicevic mentioned. “It doesn’t make a distinction if it’s the pasta or a dish that folks aside from Serbians can relate to. There’s a contact of Serbia in nearly each single dish.”

Milicevic believes that southern Serbian meals warrants an even bigger highlight, as a delicacies that’s loaded with historical past and style. Cigarette smoking his particular person meat permits the chef to experiment with these folks flavors and command for top of the range, though grilling over pure charcoal—the way in which the grillmasters do it again house—offers a smokiness that gives one more layer to a dish’s profile. 

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“That’s our DNA,” suggests Bojan Jovanovic, 016’s supervisor and co-proprietor, who immigrated to Chicago from Leskovac with Milicevic. With one another, the pair has prevail over staffing shortages and financial pitfalls to offer their delicacies a second house.

From 016 to 312

Leskovac, spot code 016, has developed a few of the Balkans’s most revered grillmasters. The southern Serbian metropolis is famend for its chievapi (grilled sausages) and kobasica (smoked sausage), which flood the streets with smoky style all through September’s Roštiljijada, “barbecue 7 days.”

“Being from the south a part of Serbia, we now have a distinct sort of delicacies than the comfort of the nation,” Milicevic talked about. “I continuously wished to open up a restaurant that was going to depict that part of Serbia, my hometown, and exhibit [people from] different cultures that we now have fascinating meals stuff to contemplate.”

Picture of Bojan Milicevic from Matthew Gilson

For living proof, there’s the 016 burger, a Serbian beef-and-veal meat patty referred to as pljeskavica that Milicevic utilized to attempt to eat just about every night time at house. (Leskovac grillmasters proceed to carry the file for the world’s best pljeskavica.) Ready equally to a sausage, the emulsified burger bursts with style. “It nonetheless brings up recollections from again once more home,” Milicevic defined.

Milicevic found these strategies from one of the best: his family members. He began off functioning in his dad’s restaurant as a busboy at age 11, manned the grill at 13, and opened his particular person barbecue cafe at 18. At standard Serbian eating institutions, just like the an individual nonetheless owned by Milicevic’s partner and kids again once more residence, there isn’t any menu. “Grilling is the one issue they do,” he talked about. “You simply go, they convey to you what they’ve, and which is about it.”

When Milicevic immigrated to Chicago (area code 312) 20 a very long time in the past, he desired to keep up these traditional methods, however he additionally most popular to experiment with new procedures and substances. “In Serbia, we do have some parts, however not a ton,” he mentioned. “As soon as I got here to the US and I noticed what was available within the marketplaces and each little factor, it simply produced me wish to do the job much more and play throughout with all people substances in the middle of the seasons.”

Milicevic additionally honed his craft at Le Cordon Bleu Faculty or college of Culinary Arts in Chicago and at Publican Excessive-quality Meats, simply one of many main butcher retailers in Illinois, by which he discovered the rules of meat manufacturing: how you can sort sausages, what kind of meat to make use of, and which flavors meld correctly collectively. 

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At this time, the usage of neighborhood parts is a central ethos of the cafe. Milicevic and Jovanovic regulate the menu to ingredient in-period create, along with smoking all their meat in-home. By combining Midwestern substances with Serbian traditions, Milicevic and Jovanovic search to showcase one of the best of what Serbian delicacies might be. 

In a pinch, make sandwiches

From the beginning off, Milicevic and Jovanovic manufactured inventive choices. They took round an present restaurant and labored beneath the an identical determine till finally they have been being all set to launch, one explicit calendar yr later. 

Like finding an condominium with nice designed-ins, renovating the 2nd-era home constructed for a smoother changeover: Milicevic and Jovanovic didn’t wish to construct a kitchen space from scratch, they usually even inherited some normal clients from the Bosnian restaurant that on the time occupied the area—as very nicely as their magic system gem: the smoker. “That was my promoting stage. I used to be like, ‘I would like this due to that. I don’t therapy about all the pieces else,’” Milicevic mentioned. 

However there had been additionally downsides. The constructing was 120 yrs aged and important structural developments, which designed renovating on a funds difficult. And simply because the restaurant began to resolve up momentum, many because of glowing space data safety in February 2020, COVID-19 strike. 

“We skilled a fully distinctive strategy to go move-by-stage, upgrading something,” Jovanovic claimed. All that needed to be place on pause because the workforce hurtled into survival methodology, closing three durations because of lockdowns and worker shortages.

In accordance to Milicevic and Jovanovic, their neighborhood saved them: They relied on financial savings from kin and buddies, as properly the Lincoln Sq. Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, which operated a software named Prevalent Pantry: Chicagoans donated cash to locations to eat, which in flip provided meals to women and men in will want. “If that lasted for six further months, I by no means contemplate we’d have survived,” Jovanovic said. 

As with a number of tiny enterprises in the middle of the pandemic, 016’s ability to pivot its group product additionally proved essential to survival. The workers constructed one more progressive resolution to mix their distinctive property: the meat smoker and Milicevic’s observe file as a butcher. 

Following the very first lockdown, they remodeled the adjoining grocery retailer right into a sandwich retailer, by which diners may put money into sandwiches with deli meat smoked in-household. Many because of a divided wall and particular person entrances primary from the avenue, the workforce was ready to rely on takeout help from the sandwich retailer to maintain the enterprise throughout later waves of the pandemic.

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‘You get taken care of as a buddy’

The group at 016 has invested their to begin with a number of a very long time in enterprise grinding—and smoking cigarettes, grilling, and serving. They haven’t skilled a great deal of time to duplicate on the enterprise’s mission. “It was simply sort of survival mode for a pair a number of years,” Jovanovic defined. 

Now, Milicevic and Jovanovic’s goal is simply to carry out a complete 12 months, which the cafe has not been ready to do in its 3 years of existence. Profitable a location in Yelp’s Finest 100 confirmed that they’re nearer to that goal than they acknowledged. A purchaser alerted them to the nomination methodology, which they under no circumstances anticipated to win—till they listened to the knowledge a number of months afterwards. “I used to be simply in shock. It supposed a superb deal, you recognize?” Milicevic claimed. 

Jovanovic further: “After battling for that extended, it feels terrific. It gave some assurance that we’re on the proper path. We wish to get again once more [on track] and provides to the local people as a result of they performed a big half when [business] was problematic.”

And it’s these devoted customers that Milicevic and Jovanovic delight them selves on retaining. As supervisor, Jovanovic strives to develop a welcoming atmosphere that encourages individuals to seem again once more as soon as extra and but once more. “When you wander into our put, we wish to sense that vibe of while you come right into a Serbian dwelling or members of the family,” he said. “You get handled as a buddy and have a emotion that you’re welcome. You’ve the experience of our society and the way in which we do issues in that hour and a 50 p.c, two a number of hours.”

A lot of the Serbian eating institutions within the area present keep audio and leisure, which is an very important part of Serbian society, Jovanovic mentioned. However he and Milicevic wished to focus on the consuming experience itself—recipes with superior-quality, seasonal substances that showcase the flexibility of Serbian meals objects.

Jovanovic talked about this method resonates with second-era Serbians and to begin with-technology immigrants who’ve been within the U.S. for a few years like he has—those that are eager for a style of the 2 the Midwest and Serbia. “More often than not, [Serbian chefs] will preserve that traditional foodstuff and never many decide to vary something,” Jovanovic defined. “Slowly, there may be cooks from our state which can be finishing up [modernized, Serbian-American fusion] actually correctly.” And in response to the Yelp group, 016’s Milicevic is high the fee.

Photographs of 016 Cafe on Yelp