The year was 1997. Fresh off of opening the now iconic Gibsons Steakhouse, owners Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli ventured on their next project of opening Chicago’s premier seafood dining destination, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House on Rush Street. Now in 2017, as the seafood institution ushers in their 20th year of operation, Hugo’s is celebrating with a look back and a sneak peek of what’s to come, beginning with a full week of festivities that kick off Wednesday, February 2.
Since opening, Hugo’s has pulled in over $14 million a year and has opened three additional locations
With over 200,000 meals served in 2016, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House ranked 69th in the 100 Top Grossing Independent Restaurants in America in 2016.
Now with newly announced Executive Chef Russell Kook (Chicago Cut Steakhouse, The Florentine) on board, Kook brings a less-is-more philosophy with an all-new contemporary slant to the much-loved menu.
“The Gold Coast has changed so much since we opened,” says Gregg Horan, director of operations for Gibsons Restaurant Group who has been with Hugo’s since opening day. “There was Jilly’s piano bar was across the street, and Nico Osteria was a coffee shop. I think the reason we’ve stood the test of time is that we make longstanding connections with our customers; I have regulars that still come in to this day that have been with us since day one.”
Now with a milestone anniversary ahead, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House will commemorate 20 years with week long celebration:
20th ANNIVERSARY PARTY: Wednesday, February 22, 6 to 8 p.m: To kick off the week of celebrations, Hugo’s will host a 20th Anniversary Party on Wednesday, February 22. Enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres and glasses of bubbly, and of course, birthday cake. Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House owners Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli will be there to cut the first slice of Hugo’s legendary cake as we toast to another 20 years. This event is free and open to the public, must be 21 and up to attend.
THEN & NOW MENU: Wednesday, February 22 to March 1: Hugo’s will offer a look back with a special Then & Now menu, featuring some of Hugo’s classic dishes, specially priced to reflect the original menu released in 1997 and current dishes with special 20th anniversary pricing.
THEN: Travel back to a time where Titanic was top of the box office and the Chicago Bulls had just clinched their 6th consecutive NBA championship—and re-visit some of the most classic dishes to grace Hugo’s menu over the past 20 years, complete with the same pricing that was offered in 1997! The throwback menu will include some of Hugo’s most popular, staple dishes like Mussels ($6), Hugo’s famous Frog Legs ($16), Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($12.50), Hugo’s gigantic slice Key Lime Pie ($4.50) and Far Niente Napa Chardonnay by the glass ($10).
NOW: Been a while since you’ve popped into the seafood hot spot? Here’s your chance to check out the old with the new, with some exciting new dishes from Executive Chef Russell. During the week of celebrations, Hugo’s will offer some of Kook’s newest creations like Scallops with cauliflower puree and beet vinaigrette, Grilled Spanish Octopus, and their ever popular Togarashi Crusted Tuna Steak, all specially priced at $20 to commemorate 20 years of Hugo’s.
FUN FACTS—A few more interesting facts about Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House:
- The name Hugo’s Frog Bar comes from Co-owner, Hugo Ralli’s grandfather, whose nickname was Frog when he served in the British Army.
- The dining room’s famous “elevator booth,” a secluded table refurbished from an antique elevator shaft, originally belonged to Winston Churchill.
- Over 18,879 slices of chocolate Mousse Pie have been served at the Gold Coast hot spot over the past 10 years.
- Hugo’s top selling menu item over the past 20 years is the Chilean Sea Bass, which Executive Chef Russell Kook currently prepares with a miso glaze, Hon Shimeji Mushrooms and fresh peas.
- Before it was Hugo’s, the space occupying 1024 N Rush Street was a movie theatre.
- Hugo’s has a oyster happy hour every day of the week! From 3pm – 6pm oysters are $1, Monday to Sunday.
- Famous for their marvelously massive desserts, each of Hugo’s Chocolate Layer Cake yields 7.5 lbs of chocolate mousse, 8 lbs of chocolate frosting, 5 layers of chocolate fudge cake, and 2 lbs of chocolate shavings, bringing the final weight of this mammoth dessert to nearly 25 lbs.