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updated: 6/10/2014 3:22 PM

Childhood friends opening restaurant in downtown Elgin

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  • Friends and business partners Tyrrell Tomlin, right, and Iran Garcia are working on opening Abe Froeman's, a new eatery at 74 S. Grove Ave. in downtown Elgin, in the spot formerly occupied by On the Side Restaurant.

       Friends and business partners Tyrrell Tomlin, right, and Iran Garcia are working on opening Abe Froeman's, a new eatery at 74 S. Grove Ave. in downtown Elgin, in the spot formerly occupied by On the Side Restaurant.
    ELENA FERRARIN | Staff Photographer

 
 

Tyrrell Tomlin and Iran Garcia say they know exactly how to make a hit out of their new eatery in downtown Elgin: offer something that's sorely needed.

They believe that something is Abe Froeman's, which will be located at 74 S. Grove Ave., in the spot formerly occupied by On the Side Restaurant until it closed in January.

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Its name comes from Abe Froman, the fictional character known as "the sausage king of Chicago" in the 1986 movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

Abe Froeman's will be what Tomlin and Garcia called a "flex casual" establishment -- catering to a varied crowd, including families and workers during the day and young professionals after hours.

"The young professionals, they are all going out of town to places like Geneva. We want them to stay in Elgin," Garcia said.

Their goal is to own a classy yet affordable establishment where the quality of the food always comes first, they said.

"You control the vibe of the place with the music, the staff and the food," Garcia said.

The menu will include items like gourmet popcorn, fresh oysters and ginger beer that are still rare in Elgin, they said.

True to its name, the menu will feature several kinds of sausages -- think bison, smoked bacon, chicken apple, Italian, turkey and even vegan -- plus fare like burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more.

Tomlin, 39, and Garcia, 40, are childhood friends who grew up on Elgin's east side. Both work for Marking Specialists Corp. in South Elgin.

Until recently, Garcia also worked as a bilingual special education substitute teacher while Tomlin co-owned a bar in Chicago.

The pair started looking in the fall at potential locations in downtown Elgin. Two opportunities didn't pan out and they were almost ready to give up when they heard the Grove Avenue space was available, they said. They signed a lease in April.

"It turned out perfect for us," Tomlin said.

Before On the Side Restaurant, the location housed Red Bar Winery & Bistro, whose mahogany back bar -- stored away for a while -- is being resurrected.

"We picked a smaller spot so it's easier to head in the right direction," Tomlin said.

Tomlin and Garcia say they know to avoid pitfalls that don't work in Elgin, such as expensive prices and niche menus, they said.

"I did all the market research, and some of the market research you know because you know Elgin," he said.

Don Obenauf, economic development director for the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin, said it bodes well that Tomlin has experience owning a bar.

"It's the kind of tenant we want," he said. "I think it's great, it's one less vacant space. They realize it's an opportunity, it costs less to rent than Chicago."

Tomlin and Garcia have been approved for an occupancy permit and only need an electrical permit, Community Development Director Marc Mylott said. They also are in the process of applying for a liquor license.

As for why they added an "e" to the name of the Ferris Bueller movie's character, the reasons are twofold: they want to show up on Google searches, and they don't want to be pigeonholed as a 1980s nostalgia spot.

"We want to be cool, but we don't want to be linked to it to a certain degree, because then it's over, like in high school," Garcia said.

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