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updated: 1/12/2012 8:34 PM

Grayslake landmark Country Squire closes

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  • The landmark Country Squire in Grayslake has closed. Village officials confirmed the closure Thursday.

       The landmark Country Squire in Grayslake has closed. Village officials confirmed the closure Thursday.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Country Squire in Grayslake attracted everyday folks for special occasions, celebrities and politicians over the years. Grayslake village officials confirmed the restaurant's closure Thursday.

       Country Squire in Grayslake attracted everyday folks for special occasions, celebrities and politicians over the years. Grayslake village officials confirmed the restaurant's closure Thursday.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • The legendary Country Squire restaurant in Grayslake has closed. The onetime mansion opened as an eatery in 1954.

       The legendary Country Squire restaurant in Grayslake has closed. The onetime mansion opened as an eatery in 1954.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Inside Country Squire

  • Video: Country Squire grounds

 
 

Country Squire in Grayslake was known for fine food and old-school elegance in a former mansion, attracting locals, celebrities and politicians since opening in 1954.

But the Country Squire has joined the ranks of legendary suburban eateries to close in the past couple of years, such as Don Roth's Blackhawk and Hackney's in Wheeling.

Grayslake Assistant Village Manager Derek Soderholm said Country Squire ownership called Thursday to surrender the restaurant's liquor license.

"They're definitely closed and there are no plans to reopen at that location," Soderholm said.

Mayor Rhett Taylor said he didn't see Country Squire's closure coming. Taylor said he and his sister had their wedding receptions at the restaurant.

"We don't want to see any business in town close, but it's doubly sad because it had such a connection to the town for so long," he said.

Situated on 13 acres of manicured grounds at routes 120 and 45, the Country Squire occupied the mansion once owned by Wesley Sears, a member of the retail family. The 17-room home was built in 1938.

Martin and Edna Giesel opened Country Squire in the mansion in 1954. The Govas family acquired the restaurant in 1977.

Country Squire not only attracted celebrities and politicians over the years, but it also was popular for high school athletic banquets and locals celebrating special occasions.

Over the years, well-known diners included Marlon Brando, Frank Lloyd Wright, Wolfman Jack, Barbara Eden, Gov. James Thompson and Mike Ditka.

Grayslake Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Christian-Smith said the Country Squire was a go-to place for many of the organization's events, in part, because of its roomy banquet facility that opened in 1988.

Christian-Smith said she was a fan of the restaurant's prime rib.

"It is a landmark," she said. "It is really sad to see it go."

Good food and service were Country Squire's hallmarks. Its most recent dinner menu included rack of lamb with Kalamata olives, pecan-crusted chicken and roast duck with apple stuffing.

Known for his passion for cooking and a dapper look, family patriarch William Govas was 79 when he died in 2008, but his wife, Crystal, and son, Gus, carried on.

Gus and Crystal Govas didn't return messages seeking comment.

Village Trustee Shawn Vogel, a lifelong Grayslake resident, said he has many fond memories of Country Squire. Last May, Vogel celebrated his grandfather's 80th birthday there.

"You'd go back to the old days and how it used to be," Vogel said.

Christian-Smith said she's already received calls from concerned brides who had wedding receptions booked for Country Squire this year and sought advice on other potential venues.

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