In mythology, it is said that two sparrows pulled the chariot of Aphrodite, considered by the ancient Greeks as the goddess of love and agriculture. In modern times, 2Sparrows represents the story of two childhood friends who shared a dream of one day opening a restaurant together.
A seasonally–driven breakfast, lunch and brunch outpost located in the heart of Chicago's charming Lincoln Park neighborhood, 2Sparrows features the contemporary American comfort fare of Chef/Partner Gregory Ellis, and a service and beverage program overseen by General Manager/Partner Steven Fladung. The two friends grew up together in Chicago's western suburbs, and worked simultaneously — Gregory in the kitchen and Steven in the front of the house — at their esteemed training ground, Charlie Trotter's.
As their careers progressed, serving at some of the country's most reputable establishments, Gregory and Steven saw an opportunity to create a more elevated approach to the most important meals of the day in terms of quality, seasonality, service and price point. At 2Sparrows, they celebrate the ingredients and products of local farmers, artisans, distillers and brew masters with a continually evolving food menu, an imaginative approach to brunch cocktails, craft beer pairings, excellent coffee service and more.
Designed by the LEED–certified Moss Design, 2Sparrows' intimate, 60–seat space is filled with rich earth tones and red–orange accents, reclaimed wood paneling, chandeliers and tabletops, locally made glass–blown fixtures, and colorful, ever–rotating pieces from Chicago artists.
Please visit us soon with your family, friends and colleagues — we look forward to seeing you and becoming a part of your everyday.
Meet Gregory and Steven
T–shirt collector, dog lover
One might be surprised to learn that Chef/Partner Gregory Ellis, 31, initially began his career a graphic artist. After studying at Northern Illinois University, he jumped into the work force as a designer, but it wasn't long before the St. Charles, Illinois native realized that "cubicle life" didn't agree with him. He decided to move in a direction that was still art–related, but that allowed for more freedom and a faster pace. With fond childhood memories of cooking with his maternal grandmother — and with natural talent in the kitchen— he decided to pursue a culinary degree from Elgin Community College.
At his first internship at a fine dining restaurant in Chicago's suburbs, Gregory's immediately fell in love with the restaurant industry, which led him to pursue an opportunity to stage at the world–renowned Charlie Trotter's. With a relentless desire to work for the award–winning restaurant, he completed five stages and earned a full–time position in the chef's kitchen. From 2004 to 2006, he worked every station alongside notable peers Matthias Merges, Giuseppe Tentori, Bill Kim and others.
"I credit my time at Charlie Trotter's for giving me the foundation to move forward as a chef," says Gregory. "The quality of the ingredients and precision involved in their preparation has made an indelible impact on how I cook."
In 2006, Gregory proposed to his now–wife, who lived in Tucson, Arizona. Following his heart, he moved to the desert and immediately accepted a position to work with James Beard Award–winning Chef Janos Wilder, where he served as the sous chef for La Paloma, the chef's fine dining restaurant, and J Bar, a more casual outpost. There, Gregory found himself in a constant exchange with his colleagues, them teaching him everything they knew about Southwestern cuisine, and he bringing the French technique and finesse he had acquired at Charlie Trotter's to the menu.
Gregory and his wife moved back to Chicago in 2007, where he began working for Pastoral, a European–inspired cheese, specialty food and wine shop offering domestic and international specialty cheeses, freshly baked breads and more. He started as a cheesemonger, and established the sandwich program at the company's first location. As the company grew, he came to manage the Loop and Lakeview stores, overseeing ordering, restaurant accounts, demonstrations and outside catering events. He also visited creameries and learned to make fresh and aged cheeses. Gregory stayed with Pastoral until April 2011, and left to pursue his dream of opening 2Sparrows with childhood friend and partner Steven Fladung.
"Pastoral was an incredible experience," says Gregory. "I was exposed to all aspects of a dynamic, growing business environment; I couldn't have asked for a better primer to opening our restaurant."
At 2Sparrows, Gregory brings breakfast, lunch, and gastrobrunch fare to the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. He utilizes the techniques upon which he was formally trained to present contemporary American comfort food, sourcing locally and presenting them in a continually evolving menu that includes housemade signatures like corned beef; pop tarts; giant pork belly, fried egg and cheese biscuits; and more.
"It's important to us that we support local agriculture and businesses as much as possible, not just with our food, but with our design and beverage program, as well," says Gregory. "I'll be working with farmers in our own backyard to utilize the most seasonal products available — and we're opening at just the right time to showcase the bounty of the harvest. I have a million ideas and can't wait to bring them to life for our guests."
Sports enthusiast, dreams of one day owning a resort on a remote island
Steven Fladung, 27, realized that hospitality was his calling at the tender age of 15 when he began working the grill for the Kane County Cougars baseball team. His early experiences of cooking and serving ballgame fans inspired the Batavia, Illinois native to study Hospitality Management at the University of Illinois, where he earned his degree in 2006.
Steven's early restaurant internships found him in the kitchen. His first opportunity to work the front of the house was at the Gibraltar Grill in Door County, Wisconsin. While he initially worked as a cook there, he was presented with a new opportunity when a server failed to arrive for the restaurant's busy brunch service. After jumping to the rescue, Steven never looked back — the direct guest interaction was so enjoyable that he didn't think twice about his pursuits in the restaurant industry.
In 2006, Steven applied and was accepted for a position at the esteemed Charlie Trotter's, where he worked as a service professional for two years. He credits his time there with deepening his understanding of the elevated standards and dedication that are integral to working in a fine dining atmosphere and serving some of the world's most sophisticated palates.
"At Charlie Trotter's, I fell in love with service, with operating at the highest level possible," says Steven. "I also had the opportunity to taste some of the best wines in the world, and learned what it meant to select, store, pour and decant properly — I couldn't have asked for a better training ground."
In 2008, Steven moved on to join the team at Chicago's soon–to–open L20 restaurant, whose kitchen at the time was helmed by renowned chef Laurent Gras. There, Steven opened the restaurant with some of Chicago's most notable industry leaders, and served as the private dining captain. The disciplined work environment translated beautifully to his next move one year and a half later, when he became a service expert for RIA Restaurant at the newly opened Elysian Hotel. Until May 2011, Steven worked with the award–winning hotel's food and beverage team to help shape the restaurant's reputable service program, contributing greatly to RIA's receipt of two, coveted Michelin stars in 2010.
At 2Sparrows, and in partnership with childhood friend and Chef/Partner Gregory Ellis, Steven manages all aspects of the restaurant's service program. In addition to building and overseeing a stellar service team, Steven also directs 2Sparrows' beverage program, which includes an all–local selection of coffee, sodas, beers and spirits, alongside a craft brunch cocktail program and a well–edited, boutique wine selection.
And how he translates his fine dining experience to a casual, everyday concept?
"Most people don't necessarily associate fine dining with fun," he says, "but I do! No matter the kind of restaurant, every guest deserves great service. At 2Sparrows, my background allows me to take the standards and principles of fine dining and apply it how people want to eat every day."