Since moving to Wicker Park in 1993, Peter Garfield has been a driving force in the neighborhood’s dining and drinking scene. Thanks to his charisma and desire to establish new concepts, Garfield has been one of the names behind some of the area’s defining institutions. His latest venture is Big Star, which he saw as an opportunity to preserve some of the Wicker Park he grew accustomed to in the 90s.
A Chicago native, Garfield worked his way up the restaurant ladder from busboy, to waiter and bartender, and finally to manager. His first major foray into management was in 1997 at Soul Kitchen, a much-lauded Wicker Park restaurant featuring modern Southern cuisine. The three years he worked day-to-day operations in the front of the house there were some of the busiest and most rewarding of his life. His next move was in 2002 to partner in the opening of Sonotheque, an innovative music lounge promoting local and international DJs. In 2007, Garfield opened the Violet Hour, bringing an unique, upscale cocktail bar not only to Wicker Park, but also to Chicago.
Garfield was first presented with the idea of taking over the iconic Pontiac Café space when a mutual friend referred him to the restaurant’s landlord. Seeking to preserve the slice of classic Wicker Park that the Pontiac Café represented, Garfield created a singular bar destination: Big Star, providing a taste of timeless Americana, something Garfield feels the neighborhood still craves.