Raymes Steak and Fish House ready to reopen in Lisle
A well-known Lisle restaurant that was shuttered due to flood damage in spring 2013 will reopen this month in a bigger space.
Owner Jerri Nolan said she already has reservations set for when her business, Raymes Steak and Fish House, makes its return the week of Sept. 15 in a 5,000-square-foot building at 4801 Lincoln Ave., just south of Ogden Avenue on Route 53.
The building has been constructed on the same property just east of the original location.
"I just think it kind of shows everybody that even as bad as it was, you can still go forward, which is what we did," Nolan said.
More than 3 feet of water poured into the restaurant the morning of April 18, 2013. Nolan said it was the first time anyone could remember floodwater crossing onto the east side of Route 53 in that area and it devastated not only Raymes, but several other Lisle businesses.
Nolan cleaned up the restaurant and thought about renovating it, but realized it made more sense to start over.
"It was a lot of fighting, a lot of insurance issues and stuff like that," she said. "You just get to a point where you feel like they're wearing you down. So you just go forward."
The old 2,100-square-foot restaurant, which opened in 1974, had 8-foot ceilings, low lighting and 1970s-style paneling on the walls.
"It was dark and kind of dingy," she said, although many customers liked the charm and "Wisconsin supper club" feel.
Nolan decided to keep the building mostly as it was when she took it over in 2009, but made some changes to the menu. She began purchasing more expensive steak and fish and added a few more items of classic American cuisine.
She also made sure to keep the restaurant's famous "king-size cocktail," which can now be found on a big sign outside the new building.
Anything that was stored higher than 4½ feet in the old building, including dinnerware, glasses and wall artwork, was salvaged and will be used in the new building, Nolan said. And more than a dozen employees from the original location are coming back to work again, along with some new hires.
"It's different and it's new and it smells new, but once we start cooking food in here, I want them to come in and say, 'She nailed it.' I want them to feel it's the same," Nolan said.
While there are some similarities between the old building and the new, Nolan also tried to keep the theme she sees in new construction in Lisle, such as the nearby police station and village hall, which she described as "prairie-style." That includes stained glass in the woodwork and lamps near the bar, warm wall colors and a modern exterior.
The building will have almost double the seating of the original location, with space for about 120 people in the main dining room and a small semiprivate room, along with nearly 40 seats in the bar area and about 30 seats outside.
"I think once we open it will become the same, cozy feeling," Nolan said. "People want us to be here and I think they will come out and support us. What we do we do very well and they like it here."