Bev's pop-up restaurant opens in Naperville, ahead of major renovation at Jimmy's Grill site
Visitors to downtown Naperville have been doing double-takes at the storied northwest corner of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue.
The sight of Bev's restaurant has replaced Jimmy's Grill, which closed in October after decades of serving burgers and treating guests with its vibrant patio atmosphere.
Bev's, named in honor of the longtime owner of the site at 245 S. Washington St., recently opened as the latest creation of Will Cullen and the Empire Restaurant Group, which operates three other dining spots in Naperville. It's a pop-up restaurant that will hold down the corner for until a renovation paves the way for a restaurant named Cali's.
Cali's is still more than a year down the road. But Cullen didn't want the site to sit unused while architecture drawings are finalized, permits are gathered and other elements of the renovation are nailed down.
"We always looked at Jimmy's," Cullen said. "If there was ever a change in ownership, we wanted to be in the conversation to get something done. We've got the best location in town."
Cullen and his team are planning to overhaul the corner. They're extending the first floor of the building to Washington Street, covering up the patio with indoor dining. However, an outdoor feel will remain in the summer thanks to accordion-style exterior doors facing Washington.
On the second floor above the new dining area, there will be rooftop seating and a bar. While Bev's is about 4,000 square feet, Cali's will be 9,000 square feet.
Cullen describes Bev's as a casual fine dining spot with a modern feel. It features everything from mussels and gnocchi to a 16-ounce dry-aged steak. Depending on the reception, some of the items may find their way onto Cali's menu.
"Instead of being down for that time, we thought it'd be more advantageous to do something there until we're ready to go with Cali's," Cullen said. "We wanted to revive it a little bit in the time being."
Cali's will have an open kitchen concept with a wood-fired grill serving steaks, seafood and an oyster dish Cullen fell in love with on a recent trip to California.
Because of the massive amount of renovations needed to create Cali's, Bev's will close at some point. Construction will take about six to nine months. Cullen said the timeline could shift, but the site definitely will shut down for an extended period.
"We're going to play it by ear," Cullen said. "If (Bev's) starts to do well, there's not going to be a huge rush to close it."