And the Latest Lao is... A Shops at North Bridge Lao Sze Chuan

Tony Hu.

By this point we have to stop and think about how many projects Tony Hu has in the air at the moment. But one of them now has firm details including an opening date, which will surely be good news for downtown-River North residents and office workers, if frustratingly delayed news— the opening date is December. The Chinese restaurant entrepreneur whose empire includes a host of regional restaurants (Lao Beijing, Lao Hunan, etc.) is opening another branch of his flagship, Lao Sze Chuan, in the Shops at North Bridge.

Which we note is just a block or so from the location of Szechwan House, where he first worked in America in the early 1990s, recruited by a company that brought Chinese chefs to America to ladle out the General Tso's Chicken for American buffetmongers; it was that experience which made him determined to create restaurants which offered a more authentic Chinese food experience. Hu has also announced a more upscale project for the area, Lao 18 at 18 W. Hubbard, which is still supposed to be in the works, but it makes sense for a Michigan Avenue location to add a branch of his most famous and successfully replicated restaurant, which has four previous branches (Chinatown, Downers Grove, Uptown and, though it is often overlooked, one in Milford, Connecticut). The restaurant will be on the fourth floor of the mall, replacing Hilligoss Galleries. [Crain's]