Arlington Heights officials are hopeful that the opening of Rack House Kitchen & Tavern, a new American-cuisine smokehouse restaurant, will spark a revival in the southern portion of the village.
The 10,000-square-foot facility in the former Boston Blackie's location at 222 E. Algonquin Road, opened quietly last week and employees said it has been well-received so far.
"This weekend we were slammed. For the first week it was so much more than we expected," said owner Luke Johnson, who opened the restaurant with business partner Matt Lewandowski.
The name for the new restaurant comes from a rackhouse, or rickhouse, where bourbon barrels are stored and aged, according to the restaurant's Facebook page, which adds that whiskey and bourbon play a major role in flavoring many of the dishes.
Johnson said a few things are still being completed -- like the restaurant's exterior sign and its website, both of which he said will be done this week.
Rack House is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to midnight. The restaurant opens a half-hour early on Saturday and Sundays for brunch, which includes a Bloody Mary bar, Johnson said.
The restaurant will have daily food and drink specials, but regular prices range from $9 to $17 for entrees with all of the brunch items under $10.
A private dining room is available for cocktail parties and there are multiple big screen TVs throughout the restaurant for sporting events.
"Arlington Heights has been unbelievable. They helped us tremendously to get open by our projected date and were more than helpful in every aspect," Johnson said.
Village officials are hoping that Rack House, along with next month's opening of the new BP gas station and car wash at the corner of Arlington Heights and Algonquin roads, will be the beginning of a revival for the southern section of town, said John Melaniphy, business and development coordinator.
"That is really our southern gateway to the village of Arlington Heights and that site had become somewhat of an eyesore being vacant for so long," Melaniphy said of the gas station.
Two other major vacancies at that corner remain empty, however -- Yanni's Greek Restaurant and the Wellington -- both of which closed last year.
Melaniphy said the village has been working with brokers for the vacancies and has had some interest. Before Hofbrauhaus went to Rosemont, Melaniphy said its owners had looked at the Wellington location.
"We have been through some unprecedented economic times, but we believe that with the improvement in the economy, restaurant operations will take a second look at these viable locations," he said.
Melaniphy said the village will be marketing those vacancies at restaurant conventions this spring.
"In our opinion that intersection is in an excellent location to serve the Northwest suburbs given the proximity to the interstate and high level of office and hotel concentration in that area," Melaniphy said.