BLVD Steakhouse: Ready for Prime Time

This female-owned steakhouse is a stylish newcomer in a sea of macho meat havens; owner and executive chef discuss all the changes they've made during the pandemic.

When BLVD opened four years ago, it was positioned as a hip West Loop Chicago destination focusing on sharable global plates. But as it gained a loyal following, says owner Kara Callero, more guests gravitated toward entrees and the meat end of the menu.

So, last summer during the height of the pandemic, Callero and executive chef Johnny Besch took the opportunity to formally transform it into BLVD Steakhouse.

“We listened to our guests and decided to lean into that steakhouse moniker and really just brand ourselves with what we had organically become,” explains Callero during a recent LIVE! Culinary Series episode.

“What was [also] important for us was to be this chef-driven steakhouse,” she continues. “We’re an independent restaurant group. We didn’t want to come across as a chain restaurant. … we wanted to hold onto the integrity of the ingredients that [chef Besch] has always used and prioritized since the day we first opened.”

She also talks about what it’s like to be part of an elite group of female restaurateurs who own steakhouse concepts. Nationwide, there are approximately 30 women-owned steakhouses, and in Chicagoland there are four, including the newly minted BLVD Steakhouse.

“When you look at the industry as a whole, it actually makes sense [that there are so few women-owned steakhouses],” she says. “The restaurant industry and hospitality industry has always been dominated by men when you look at chefs, restaurant owners, chef-owners. That contributes to that statistic that there are fewer women-owned steakhouses.

“I also think that the steakhouse concept is male centric,” she adds. “You think about dark wood, leather, big cuts of meat, over-sized side dishes. Those are things that people associate with men. Do I think there’s room for femininity in the steakhouse world? Absolutely.”

Find out more about what Callero, and chef Besch, have to say on the subject, plus details on BLVD’s Chicago Restaurant Week offerings, general details on Chicago Restaurant Week, and chef Besch’s new Rose & Anchor Soap Co.

[BLVD Steakhouse photo courtesy of Anthony Tahlier Photography; Rose & Anchor Soap Co. provided second image]