The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet (“The Lunatic”), a bar and bistro that celebrates life with wine, spirits, and culinary delights, brings a unique blend of whimsy and wisdom to Randolph Street.
The three-level, 7,000-square-foot establishment located at 736 W. Randolph Street serves brunch, lunch, and dinner, and features a late night happy hour. The concept, inspired by Shakespeare’s iconic A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is the brainchild of Managing Partner and Sommelier Tom Powers, who was behind some of the district’s pioneering restaurants (Vivo, Marche, Red Light). The Lunatic is a neighborhood oasis in the trendy area, serving elegantly balanced wines, thoughtful craft cocktails, and highly inventive shareable plates at reasonable prices.
Powers began his restaurant career at Marche in Chicago in 1993. The restaurant proved to be a smashing success. He then owned Harvest on Huron which earned Best New Restaurant of the Year from The Chicago Tribune. Over the years he has served as a consultant, a Champagne Ambassador for Veuve Clicquot and National Sales Director for the Italian Wine Merchants. His career then expanded into television as a host for a Discovery Channel production. However, he always knew he would return to the restaurant world. The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet is this project. He describes the project very simply,” It is for the Love.” The 3 level space is a celebration of his love for the business, the product, the guests, the design, the teambuilding and the service. Powers is married to the lovely Kara, father to Michael. He enjoys scuba diving, skiing, cycling, and late night shenanigans.
Jessica Nowicki brings a sense of balance, integrity and elegance to her profession that belies her eight years in the professional culinary world. As Executive Chef at Chicago’s acclaimed bar and bistro, The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet, Nowicki is one of the emerging talents in the American food scene. Her approach is light-handed and completely void of pretense, as she believes in letting the subtle flavor profiles of fresh, seasonal ingredients shine through. Her attention to detail and focus on presentation make even the simplest of dishes feel celebratory.
Born in the rural community of Mars PA, Nowicki discovered the joy of cooking at a young age. Her passion was ignited when she began preparing meals for her four older siblings – her steak tartare (among other delights) became the glue that strengthened family bonds.
Nowicki channeled her youthful exuberance and enrolled in New York’s Culinary Institute of America. After earning her Culinary Arts degree, she headed to Chicago to hone her craft at establishments like Naha and Brindille. Before joining The Lunatic, she was Executive Chef at acclaimed micro caterer IVY at OMB.
Nowicki has developed a menu with innovative takes on classic bistro fare for The Lunatic. Her creativity and professionalism have contributed to the establishment’s early accolades, including being named one of Chicago’s hottest restaurants by Chicago Magazine and Zagat, as well as earning recognition for serving one of Chicago’s best burgers in The Red Eye’s annual “Battle of the Burgers” competition.