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New Restaurant Adds Lunch Service to Gourmet Bar Food, Tapas

Johnnie Blue, a new restaurant on Lawrence Avenue, is mixing Mediterranean tapas with a bar atmosphere.

Michael Younan’s friends call him Johnnie Blue, after his favorite label of Johnnie Walker scotch. So when he went to open his first restaurant, naming it was simple.

Johnnie Blue, at 2619 W. Lawrence Ave., opened in early January. Photos of Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe greet customers and a modern fireplace keeps the restaurant’s largest table warm.

“We welcome anyone that wants to have fun,” Younan said. “We’re kid-friendly, but turn into a bar with a DJ at night.”

The menu is full of Mediterranean tapas-style dishes. Plates range from $4-$18 in what Younan describes as “gourmet bar food.”

Johnny Blue’s signature dish is a wood charcoal-grilled salmon with mango butter sauce, mango and chili powder. The restaurant also features lamb chops with a cranberry reduction and date syrup. Red snapper and tilapia are wild-caught, rather than farm-raised.

Starting Wednesday, the restaurant will also be open for lunch.

Younan has been working to turn the space into Johnnie Blue since early 2012.

“My friend owns the building and said we could use it; I always wanted to own a restaurant and so took the risk and did it,” he said.

Before opening the restaurant, Younan worked in the medical supply business after serving 8 years in the Air Force. He and his wife, three daughters and son live in Niles.

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