Alexander's restaurant on Route 31 in Elgin recently started an $800,000 renovation to modernize the interior and exterior of the eatery, its owner said.
"Before it was a glass and brass jungle," said Bob Karas of South Elgin, who owns the restaurant with his uncle, George Karas.
"It's being modernized with new interior made of stone and wood, new flooring, new ceiling, new equipment, a new menu." There will also be a coffee bar, a bar stocked with liquors, and a gas fireplace, he said.
The Elgin City Council's committee of the whole last week gave the OK to award the project a $24,446 neighborhood business improvement grant.
Commercial properties eligible for the grant program must be located within certain business districts or along an entryway corridor such as Route 31, Route 25 and Villa Street. Property owners can get 50 percent of the cost of eligible improvements, up to $25,000.
Renovation plans for the nearly 5,900-square-foot restaurant at 1725 N. State St. (Route 31) have been in the works for three or four years. The work started after Labor Day and the restaurant should reopen in December, Bob Karas said.
"We want to keep our old customers and we want to attract new customers," he said. "Obviously, if we were making big bucks we wouldn't have needed to do this right now."
Bob Karas' father, Paul Karas, and his brother, George, built the restaurant -- named after Alexander the Great -- in 1987. The site previously held a truck stop. Paul Karas has since retired, his son said.
The Karas family also owns Village Squire restaurants in West Dundee, Crystal Lake and McHenry, as well as Rookies All American Pub & Grill locations in St. Charles, Elgin, Hoffman Estates and Huntley.
"We've been here in the Fox Valley since 1974 when we bought the Village Squire in West Dundee," Bob Karas said. "We hope to be here for a long time."