1st Location: 33 E 83rd St, Chicago, IL 6061
2nd Location: 2039 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 6064
3rd Location: 1508 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615
(Blockclubchicago.org) “Opening a restaurant during a pandemic is a risky undertaking. Opening three in four months is an impossible task for most. But the Walker Family is in the business of making the impossible happen.
Walker first entered the restaurant industry in 2014, when he started selling homemade sweet tea at a Harold’s Chicken on 87th Street near the Dan Ryan.
He’s since expanded the tea business, the success of which propelled the Walkers to open their restaurant in the middle of the pandemic. So far, the decision has paid off.
“We haven’t been feeling the effects of the pandemic since opening the restaurant. People love to eat, and they still want to experience some type of feeling as if they went out to dine at a restaurant,” said Mark Walker, who also created Ooh Wee Sweet Tea, a line of specialty teas made with local raw honey instead of sugar.
The opportunity would knock again when they learned that the space formerly occupied by Mather Cafe was vacant. Both fell in love with the restaurant at first sight, and were determined to honor the legacy of Mather’s, a well-known gathering place for the community.
While they made a few cosmetic changes, they hope to keep the spirit of the old cafe alive with Ooh Wee It Is.
“Mark is a decorator. He loves bringing ideas to life. We wanted a place where people could come in and listen to live music, socialize, and just get good food as a bonus, and this was the perfect place to provide that,” said Shea Walker.
Next, Co-owner Mark Walker says the Wicker Park location will offer a challenge to “go against the grain” and attract new clientele.
“We did market research in that area … and there’s not too many restaurants like ours,” said Walker, who operates Oooh Wee It Is with his wife Shae. “We thought the Wicker Park area would be a great place to plant our feet at this point. So North Avenue and Damen, I don’t think they know what’s coming yet.”
The Walkers are even eyeing a possible fifth location near the future Obama Presidential Center in Woodlawn, as well as out-of-state locations in Atlanta and Houston.”