Leadbelly owners plan to open at new location


The Leadbelly hamburger restaurant will open a second location this spring in the Gladstone Park area.

The 60-seat restaurant is scheduled to open this spring in the former Caspian Cafe, 5691 N. Milwaukee Ave., in Harrington Plaza. The storefront previously was occupied by Father and Son Pizza.

The first Leadbelly restaurant opened a year ago at 5739 W. Irving Park Road in the former Carreno’s Pizza, which was a favorite dining spot lf Leadbelly owners Nicole Masse O’Brien and Steve O’Brien. Leadbelly offers 10 styles of burgers and six types of toppings for its hand-cut French fries, including a sauce with bleu cheese crumbles and homemade onion straws.

Nicole O’Brien is a former school teacher who decided after the last Chicago Teachers Union strike to stay at home with her children and develop a concept for a new restaurant.

"The passion for this comes from Nicole," Steve O’Brien said. "She is the chef and runs the place. We bake our own bread and use natural ingredients. We grind USDA ground chuck with some pork belly. That gives it its flavor."

The restaurant is named after blues and folk musician Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, who influenced many musicians, O’Brien said. Video clips of rock groups such as Led Zeppelin are shown in the restaurant.

Both of the O’Briens grew up in the area, as he went to Saint Constance School and Gordon Tech High School and she attended Sayre School and Luther High School North. Steve O’Brien owned the former Mike’s American Ale House in Portage Park.

An application for a liquor license is for the Milwaukee location pending, but O’Brien said that the restaurant is not a bar. He said that it serves "adult milkshakes" and offers about 70 types of bottled craft beer along with some draft beer, he said.

The new restaurant will be open for weekday lunch unlike the one on Irving Park, O’Brien said.