'Stoked it's something Gordon': New Ramsay restaurant set to open in Naperville
Each time the front door cracks open at 39 W. Jefferson Ave. in Naperville, passersby try to catch a glimpse inside.
A flurry of activity has been taking place behind paper-lined windows and locked doors, and there's a great deal of curiosity about what's happening beyond the signage welcoming a new restaurant to town: Ramsay's Kitchen.
Downtown Naperville has been buzzing with anticipation since January, when Michelin-starred celebrity chef and television personality Gordon Ramsay announced the latest opening of one of his restaurants.
The wait is just about over.
After months of renovations and fine-tuning the menu, the nation's third Ramsay's Kitchen is set to swing its doors open to the public on Tuesday in the heart of Naperville.
"People are super excited about it and really curious," said Christina Wilson, vice president of culinary with Gordon Ramsay North America. "They're so stoked it's something Gordon, and it's something nearby."
A winner in the 10th season of Ramsay's "Hell's Kitchen" cooking competition show, Wilson is now Ramsay's point person for executing the menus at his restaurants.
Together, Wilson and Ramsay designed the concept for Ramsay's Kitchen during the height of the pandemic. In 2022, they rolled out the first restaurants in Boston and Las Vegas.
The Naperville Ramsay's Kitchen has its own identity, starting with its location at the former Oswald's Pharmacy, which called the building home from 1875 to 2004. After Ted's Montana Grill vacated the space, Ramsay's team decided it was the perfect spot.
Ramsay chose Naperville over other suburban locations following an exhaustive search, and he chose Ramsay's Kitchen over his other restaurant brands because he felt it was a better fit for the demographics. His closest restaurant is a Gordon Ramsay Burger in Chicago.
A soft opening starts today, leading up to next week's official kickoff. Wilson said 3,000 people applied for about 100 jobs at the restaurant.
"(Ramsay will) often look around a major city and see what suburban towns are up and coming," Wilson said. "You can see that evolution happening here. It's an eclectic scene.
"It feels right," she said. "We want to be part of this community."
While the interior of the building is completely overhauled, you'll see a tribute to Oswald's Pharmacy through the original brick lining one wall. Vintage apothecary bottles are displayed throughout, and the cabinetry above the bar speaks to the building's pharmaceutical roots.
The 5,600-square-foot space accommodates more than 160 guests with a bar and lounge, main dining room, two private dining areas and a seasonal patio. The open-concept kitchen gives visitors a firsthand look at the culinary team at work.
The star of the restaurant is the menu -- with signature Ramsay dishes such as Beef Wellington, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Pan-Seared Scallops and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Wilson, however, also made sure to include items unique to the Naperville location. The RK Burger is a double smashburger with homemade giardiniera, while the Chicken Milanese is a play on chicken cordon bleu. The Sticky Cauliflower with a batter covered in a Korean barbecue glaze caters to vegetarian tastes.
Ramsay's team did extensive homework in attempting to understand the community. It created an all-day dining experience to attract patrons ranging from workers with limited time for lunch to families and nearby students from North Central College.
Ramsays' Kitchen will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Starting Tuesday, reservations will be available online at ramsayskitchen.com.
"We're not trying to come in and just slap a big-box name down," Wilson said. "We did a lot of research for this menu. We want to thread into the landscape. Bring some exciting things but also provide that comfort."