Palatine residents will reopen Brandt's
Brandt's Little Cafe will reopen as Brandt's of Palatine in March. A pair of Palatine residents recently stepped forward to buy the eatery, saving it from the auction block.
Bill Zars | Staff Photographer October 2004
A longtime Palatine staple won't be going to the auction block, after all.
New owners Walt Oswald and Jim Iuorio stepped up and purchased the struggling Brandt's Little Cafe, located at the southwest corner of Northwest Highway and Quentin Road. They hope to re-brand, refurbish and reopen the burger and rib joint next month as Brandt's of Palatine.
"We both love Brandt's and didn't want to see it go away," Oswald said. "It would be a shame to see a bank on the corner, so we going to rejuvenate it, get some folks back and make this a place we can all be proud of."
Oswald and Iuorio closed on the acquisition, and closed Brandt's doors, last week. They went before the Palatine village council Monday night for approval of the special use and liquor license required to operate the restaurant and bar.
The property has been "neglected," Oswald said, so a fair amount of work needs to be done to get the building up to code. The new owners will pave the gravel driveway, stabilize the existing deck and update the kitchen. The pair also will demolish the adjacent house and garage and construct an outdoor dining deck.
It's a different kind of venture for Oswald and Iuorio, both longtime Palatine residents with corporate backgrounds. Oswald is the former chief information officer of Motorola Mobility and was among the executives to leave when the company was acquired by Google. Iuorio is an options trader who makes regular appearances on CNBC.
"It's sort of a new thing for both of us, but the timing is right," Oswald said. "It's really about our love for this place."
The property had entered foreclosure proceedings, and an auction had been scheduled at an earlier date but postponed.
Oswald and Iuorio said they don't plan to change much of the menu or the decor, lest Brandt's lose its charm. According to old Daily Herald reports, the gray stone building was originally an Inverness farmhouse dating back about 130 years. The building was moved to what's now 807 W. Northwest Highway in the 1920s.
Brandt's, which opened more than 65 years ago and relocated to its current home in 1968, was in former owner George Grisco's family for three generations. He worked to reopen the three-level eatery after a 2002 fire closed it for several months. Grisco couldn't be reached for comment.
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