The Boiler Room in Logan Square reopens after six months and pizza enthusiasts could not be happier about the new StopAlong staples. Although their signature dishes are no longer the same, the location kept its specific charm, including, of course, the boiler that gave its name.
Boiler Room quietly closed last November after 12 years
No foodie can say no to a hot slice of the gooey, cheesy, and heavenly-tasting deep-dish pizza. And one of the places known for its New York-style slices, PB&J special and casual vibes, Boiler Room closed last November after 12 years on Logan Square’s California Avenue.
Russ Grant, who ran Boiler Room’s day-to-day operations, said the business was losing money and owners were forced to close the restaurant since employees were not coming to work anymore.
But for the people in the neighborhood, including some of the restaurant employees, the sudden closure was a complete surprise. Workers said they were laid off without any warning as the owners were covertly preparing to sell the business.
Ownership said a new restaurant would replace Boiler Room, but didn’t leave any clues to who would take over the space.
Then, late January, the news came that the space was taken over and was going to be transformed into a StopAlong restaurant.
Robert Magiet, the StopAlong’s general manager and partner, said they were going to fuse the best parts of the Boiler Room and StopAlong to create something for everyone.
StopAlong is famous for its double-patty smash burger
Taylor Hammond, a Vanderbilt University law school graduate, opened the StopAlong in 2016. Beyond the thin-crust pizza, which have names like ”Animal House” (cup-and-char Ezzo pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and Canadian bacon), StopAlong is famous for its double-patty smash burger, one of the best in Chicago. Hammond was so confident in the burger that he purchased ad space on a digital billboard along Milwaukee Avenue touting the burger as the best on the block. The billboard took a shot at perennial favorite Small Cheval which has a location a few doors away.
Hammond brought Magiet into the business in 2022, after he had made a name for himself beyond the restaurant world, by starting the West Town Feeds charity during the worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic. Magiet was the owner of TaKorea Cocina, a small restaurant along Western Avenue which served Korean tacos. The restaurant went out of business in June 2022, but the new StopAlong will host TaKorea pop-ups, Magiet told Eater.
How does the new place look
The new owners kept some of Boiler Room’s original details, but the restaurant, reimagined after the original StopAlong at 1812 N. Milwaukee Ave., has a different signature pizza and StopAlong staples, arcade games and colorful decor.
Magiet and Hammond bought the business and took over the former owners’ lease, hoping to revive the Logan Square staple and expanding The StopAlong. The new owners negotiated for about two months and started transforming the space, which was supposed to reopen in May.
About six months after its closure, neighborhood favorite Boiler Room reopened June 7th as the second outpost of Bucktown spot The StopAlong.
The StopAlong at Boiler Room’s grand opening was scheduled to last from 11 a.m till 10 p.m., with small pizzas and garlic knots for $6 (limit one per person) and free ice cream cones from a local ice cream truck.
Boiler Room’s signature slices are gone, the Logan Square restaurant now serves StopAlong pizza, similar in style with the old staple, but made with a different recipe. The old bar stools of the Boiler Room have been replaced, the tight booths ripped out, but the place kept of course the early 1900s boiler for which it was named, integrated into the bar as it was before.
The neighbors, expected to come back to the restaurant
Hammond said they’re excited to welcome neighbors back to the Boiler Room after several months.
“We’ve got a brand that resonates with people — food, service and a vibe that resonates with people — and so we’re confident that if people give us a chance, [this restaurant] will resonate with people, too, even the old Boiler Room faithfuls that weren’t expecting this,” Hammond said.
To start, the pizza and burger restaurant at 2210 N. California Ave. will be open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Owners Taylor Hammond and Robert Magiet are planning to expand the hours as they hire more people to complete their staff.
In January, Magiet said they were attracted to everything the Boiler Room had to offer, but especially having more space to host private parties, community events, and easing the stress of delivery orders.
The owners plan to install a StopAlong sign soon to make the transition more apparent, and strengthen the restaurant’s place in the neighborhood.
“The concept of it has changed a little bit … It ended up being a little more of a pure, straight-up StopAlong than we expected at first, but as we went through the process, that increasingly made more and more sense,” Hammond said.
It remains to be seen whether the Boiler Room usual crowd will come back and enjoy the new place or it is going to be able to build its own new customer base of pizza lovers.