'Welcome to Wheeling': New ramen restaurant to open in February

The chef behind three celebrated suburban restaurants has revealed his next eatery should open in February.

Restaurateur Kenta Ikehata shared the news about when he plans to open Chicago Ramen Wheeling, 743 N. Milwaukee Ave., at Monday's village board meeting.

"I'm so excited," Ikehata told the board shortly before it awarded him a municipal grant to help cover renovation costs.

"Welcome to Wheeling," Trustee Mary Papantos told Ikehata after the vote.

The roughly 1,300-square-foot spot - until recently occupied by a Subway sandwich shop - is in front of the Westin Chicago North Shore hotel. That's the north end of Wheeling's Restaurant Row.

Ikehata also operates Chicago Ramen and Chicago Sushi in Des Plaines and Chicago Ramen Lab in Rolling Meadows. That latter restaurant, at 2222 W. Algonquin Road, opened just a few weeks ago.

The Wheeling space will be renovated to accommodate Chicago Ramen. New booths, a new walk-in cooler and new signs are among the planned changes, documents indicate.

The work is expected to cost $101,800.

The $49,482 grant will come from Wheeling's Restaurant and Retail Build-Out Assistance program, through which business owners or property owners can be reimbursed for up to half a project's cost.

Formerly known as the Facade and Building Improvement Grant Program, the effort was renamed and repurposed in 2020 and has a $400,000 annual budget.

Grants of up to $150,000 are available to improve sit-down restaurant facilities. Other types of businesses can get grants of up to $50,000.

To be eligible, businesses must be located in one of Wheeling's tax increment financing districts, which raise money for public improvements.

In addition to Chicago Ramen Wheeling, grants have been issued this fiscal year to Mochinut, West Town Bakery, Cinergy Entertainment Group and Meat & Potato Urban Kitchen. They total $253,006.

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Get ready to slurp: New ramen restaurant coming to Wheeling

  Chicago Ramen Wheeling is set to open at 743 N. Milwaukee Ave., along Restaurant Row. The storefront's windows already have signs advertising menu items. Russell Lissau/
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