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Free food for bands? Chicago becomes even more appealing to touring musicians

September 15, 2010 |  3:14 pm

Rock 'n' roll and food continue to collide in Chicago, where the heavy-metal-themed Kuma's Corner has patrons sometimes waiting an hour or more for a burger. Today, the city's acclaimed chef James Toland unveiled the name of his planned restaurant in the city's Logan Square neighborhood: Gabba Gabba Hey. 

It's "fine dining for the people," the former Lockwood chef writes on his blog. The name is a nod, of course, to the Ramones' "Pinhead," in which the band opens with the chant "Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you, one of us." 

Writes Toland:

"The menu will be simple and to the point like a Ramones song. We will be fun Fun FUN all the time! We are joining the small group of restaurants in America that aren't afraid to put out high quality cuisine without the pretense associated with our earlier endeavor!"

But the news that's most relevant to those outside of Chicago (the Pop & Hiss excuse to write this) is the tidbit Toland drops at the end of his post. Though the restaurant doesn't yet have an opening date, Toland promises that Gabba Gabba Hey will "unofficially" provide touring bands with a free meal. The booze, however, will still have to come from whatever cut you scored from your Hideout gig. 

There are rules: You have to have had a gig in town within one week of dining at the restaurant, and Toland writes that simply recording an album in Chicago for two months with Steve Albini won't earn you eight  weeks of free food.

As for locals? Toland breaks the mixed news with a little Chicago attitude. "That is entirely up to my discretion if I like your band and you are willing to let me sit in with you." 

An earlier post gave a hint as to Toland's vision for the food, which includes "braised short ribs with the most perfect pomme puree ever, sous vide poussin, oak-planked pork ribs and olive oil-poached cod with shrimp pudding." 

Not sure if shrimp pudding was on the mind of the Ramones when they wrote "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment," but if punk rock is on Broadway, no reason it can't have shrimp pudding. 

One final note: This former Chicagoan (OK, fine, the suburbs) would have preferred to see a Windy City band referenced, but it is true that the songs of Naked Raygun and Screeching Weasel don't really lend themselves to restaurant names. That being said, a bar named after Big Black's "Stinking Drunk" remains on the wish list. 

-- Todd Martens

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