New restaurant, bar opening Friday in downtown Grayslake

  • First Draft Grayslake opens to the public at 11 a.m. Friday, July 10.

    First Draft Grayslake opens to the public at 11 a.m. Friday, July 10. courtesy of First Draft Grayslake

Updated 7/9/2020 6:11 PM

First Draft Grayslake will serve its first customers starting at 11 a.m. Friday, officially marking the end of more than two years of planning and construction.

The two-story restaurant, located at 250 Center St. in Grayslake, will serve food made in house and offer 60 beers on tap.


"I hate the word 'gastropub' but that's what people relate it to," co-owner Tom Bystol said, describing the restaurant. "We'll do a market fish that is changed out all the time; we'll buy a slab of beef and cut out 35 rib-eyes."

Bystol, who grew up in Libertyville, said he moved to Grayslake in 2016 after living in the city most of his adult life. He said he and his business partners soon recognized there was a need for another great place to go out in Grayslake.

"We'd go to Emil's on a Tuesday night and there'd be a line of people waiting," Bystol said, referring to Emil's Tavern on Center. "So we decided to go ahead."

Bystol said the building First Draft now occupies was at one point a mechanic's shop and gas station. During construction, which began in September of 2018, crews discovered some old underground storage tanks no one expected to find. Through the company's economic agreement with Grayslake, the village covered the cost of removing the storage tanks, but Bystol said the discovery still cost them time. There were other delays as well, including rough winter weather in 2019 that ground work to a halt.

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And then the pandemic hit, bringing additional complications. Bystol said COVID-19 has meant several of the last steps of the process took longer, such as final permitting from local and state authorities.

While dealing with the delays, he said the company developed a thorough safety plan for opening during the pandemic that includes having servers wear safety equipment, spraying down tables and swapping out menus between customers.

Diners will be seated on the restaurant patio and roof deck. There will also be seating available inside, but at just 25 percent capacity.

Reservations for diners will be limited to an hour and 45 minutes unless there are no other reservations waiting.

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