This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CHICAGO — The independently owned and operated restaurant Uncommon Ground will celebrate 30 years in business in Chicago’s Lakeview/Wrigleyville neighborhood.

Since 1991, owners Mike and Helen Cameron have been community leaders in the “farm to table” movement and continue to be recognized for their commitment to sustainable practices.

Check out other Chicago Scene segments.
Think you have a great Chicago Scene idea? Tell us!

Uncommon Ground first opened as a coffeehouse on Grace Street in July 1991 before expanding to its current size of 4,000 square feet. A second location followed in 2007 in the Edgewater neighborhood. Eventually both were named the “first and second greenest restaurants in the country” by the Green Restaurant Association. 

Uncommon Ground has been serving brunch, lunch, and dinner with a focus on contemporary comfort cuisine utilizing seasonal, regional, and organic ingredients.

30 years of Uncommon Ground

Their bar features house-infused organic cocktails, an eclectic American wine list and a variety of organic craft beers from their very own certified Greenstar Brewing company, which was named “first organic brewery in Illinois.”

Uncommon Ground is widely known for their community involvement hosting national musical acts that perform nightly in their acoustic listening room as well as showcasing art openings to support local Chicago artists. They are also built America’s “first certified rooftop farm” that is 2,500-square feet and produces 1,500 pounds of food annually. A pair of beehives also provides 40-50 pounds of honey for both restaurants.

“Planting seeds is an act of hope,” Helen Cameron said. “The sunshine lifts your spirits, yet the purpose is grounding and therapeutic and boy did I get some great exercise! I feel that spending a great deal of time outside and watching seedlings grow brought the light back into my soul after a very dark time.”

Amidst the pandemic, the Camerons shut down dining like other restaurants and moved to carry out and delivery only. They dipped into retirement funds, applied for PPP and credit the second round of approval as saving their business because they were able to keep many more people on payroll than sales had been allowing. 

Rooftop farm in Edgewater

“Thirty years of running two busy restaurants has taught us a lot about how to evolve or die in our industry,” Mike Cameron said. “We’ve been through a couple recessions, a housing market bubble bursting, etc., so we are tenacious enough to make it through. That is why our special anniversary beer is called Perseverance Double IPA.”

Uncommon Ground will celebrate its 30th Anniversary all month long with a special $30 prixfixe menu available for takeout or dining and musical performances beginning July 15th. Locations are 3800 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60613 and 1401 W Devon, Chicago, IL 60660.

For more, follow @tomwgnchicago on Instagram