Though raised in New Jersey, Chef Joel Nickson learned to love the south through visits to his grandparent’s home in North Carolina. At age 14 he began working at a soul food restaurant in Tea Neck, New Jersey. A dozen years later, having amassed a solid cooking background that includes stints in elegant San Francisco and New York City restaurants, and terms as Head Chef at several large resorts, he opened Wishbone in a storefront on Grand Avenue in July of 1990
His "southern reconstruction cooking"--Dixie standards like Shrimp & Grits, blackened catfish, and Carolina crab cakes, prepared with a minimum of heavy oils, deep frying, or added sugar--with its mix-and-match menu of side dishes such as sautéed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes, and macaroni and cheese, caught on fast.
Not long after, a second Wishbone was opened in 1992 with 170 seats at 1001 W. Washington-- at a time when Chicago's West Loop seemed an uncharted territory. Wishbone was an early participant in the emergence of the neighborhood from a commercial area to one of the city's culinary hot spots.
In November of 2018, Wishbone relocated after 27 years at 1001 W Washington Blvd. Their new home is at 161 N Jefferson St, six blocks east. Next year will mark Wishbone's 30th year in business.