Chicago Restaurants

Lula Cafe in Logan Square wins 2024 James Beard Award for ‘Outstanding Hospitality'

Lula Cafe also appeared in Chicago's 2023 Michelin Guide as a "Bib Gourmand" pick.

NBC Universal, Inc.

A beloved restaurant in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood has officially earned James Beard bragging rights.

Lula Cafe, at 2537 N. Kedzie Blvd., took home the 2024 James Beard Foundation Award for "Outstanding Hospitality," Monday, beating out restaurants in Dallas, New York, Raleigh and Portland, Maine.

The awards ceremony -- the culinary world's equivalent of the Oscars -- was held Monday at the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. It featured more than 100 restaurants as finalists across 22 categories and honored "excellence across the culinary industry, from fine dining to casual gems in our communities, while also supporting and encouraging a more sustainable industry," according to a press release.

According to the release, the "Outstanding Hospitality" award was presented to a restaurant, bar or other food or drinking establishment that "fosters a sense of hospitality among its customers and staff, that serves as a beacon for the community and demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community."

In an interview with the Foundation after winning the award, chef Jason Hammel called the achievement "A recognition of a lifetime."

"It's a huge deal for us, because its an award that recognizes an entire team," Hammel went on to say. "We don't believe that hospitality is just between guests and servers. We believe that hospitality starts in the kitchen, in the breakroom, in the morning when the team comes and you welcome them ... We believe it starts with us."

The restaurant won Chicago's only James Beard award for 2024. The city saw three other nominations for this year's ceremony, including two Chicago chefs and one baker.

Lula Cafe also appeared in Chicago's 2023 Michelin Guide as a "Bib Gourmand" pick.

The Associated Press reports that restaurants apply for James Beard Awards. Judges, who mostly remain anonymous, try the cuisine before voting. Nominees are reviewed for the food as well as for a behavioral code of ethics, including how employees are treated.

In January, the James Beard Foundation released its list of semifinalists for the 2024 awards. Chicago appeared on that list 19 times, in categories including Outstanding Restaurateur, Outstanding Restaurant and Best New Restaurant. When the list had been shaved down to finalists, only four Chicago chefs and restaurants made the cut.

In 2023, six Chicago chefs across five restaurants earned spots on the final list of nominees, with three chefs taking home awards.

The full list of 2024 winners can be found here.

Contact Us