Firewater BBQ to open in Geneva this summer

  • This spot on State Street in downtown Geneva, previously home to Juliette, will soon house another restaurant -- Firewater BBQ.

      This spot on State Street in downtown Geneva, previously home to Juliette, will soon house another restaurant -- Firewater BBQ. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


We've seen Urban Grille, Hache Moderne Brasserie and Juliette restaurant operations come and go at 524 W. State St. in Geneva. Such a track record gives a building location a bit of an unwanted aura to it.

In this case, it's that this location is a bit too far off the path of the bustling Third Street, or the Third and State intersection in Geneva. Another stickler has been the lack of parking near the site.

But Firewater BBQ owner Matt Weil is not letting any sort of negative vibes overshadow his enthusiasm and, more importantly, a belief that his restaurant will deliver the type of food and service that will make all of those other concerns moot.

He's bringing his Southern barbecue joint to Geneva this summer, making it his third location to go along with bustling sites in Lombard and Cresthill. Weil fully intends to make Geneva another popular site.

"The No. 1 concern with this location is the parking, but, in all honesty, we are Southern-style barbecue and we are concentrating on being great at what we are really great at," Weil said. "We don't try to be something that we are not, and we know what we do."

Firewater BBQ has won plenty of awards and competitions and has been featured on "Chicago's Best" telecasts for top barbecue places.

"We are really different because restaurant barbecue is quite different from competition barbecue. It's like night and day," Weil added.

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Weil said he's not too nervous about the parking situation, as he is convinced that once people see how good the food and service is, they will find their parking spots.

Though it is a quick-casual setting, the Geneva location will have seating for 100 customers. But Firewater BBQ also generates strong carryout and catering service.

"My plan is to go to nearby businesses and see if we can help each other draw more people to this corner and area, and see if we can share some parking areas," Weil said. "I'm not too concerned about it after 5 p.m. and on weekends."

The area's side streets and a lot in the back of the restaurant will serve Firewater's customers well.

Mostly, Weil is banking on excellent barbecue to finally put this site in its rightful position among Geneva's popular restaurant list.


Not at Abby's:

When Abby's Breakfast and Lunch owner Rob Mondi first told me a couple of months ago that he had a potential buyer for his location, he hinted that maybe a barbecue restaurant would surface there.

So, when Firewater BBQ recently announced it was coming to Geneva in the former Juliette location, I wondered if this was somehow the barbecue operation Mondi was thinking about -- especially because Firewater is moving into the Juliette spot that chef David Reyes owned. And Reyes is moving his The Grandstander sports bar to the Abby's site in downtown St. Charles.

Got that all straight? Yes, it's tricky, as are most restaurant shuffles. Mondi said the Firewater BBQ has nothing to do with anything happening at the Abby's site, or with Reyes and his operations.

Mondi will partner with Reyes to reopen The Grandstander the first week of June.

It was good to hear that plans call for some of the most popular items from Abby's to turn up on The Grandstander menu, which will also have its share of barbecue and smoked meats.


And, of course, this larger Grandstander location will be full of TVs for the sports fans and dart boards for those who enjoy that activity.

Erasing some stigma:

After 50 years or providing mental health services to area residents, TriCity Family Services knows the importance of helping people not only get through difficult patches in their lives, but also in erasing the stigma behind mental health issues.

The agency has celebrated its longevity this year while also emphasizing its services likely are needed now more than ever. In doing so, they are making a significant pitch this month during Mental Health Month to emphasize the #4Mind4Body national theme.

Overall, there is more awareness than ever of these types of problems that affect families and individuals in their personal and professional lives. And that the focus put on healthy bodies should include mental health care.

"I recently had a teen client who, upon reflecting on her treatment of over a year, wondered why mental health assessments weren't part of yearly health requirements for school, much like physical and dental exams," Jules O'Neal, clinical director at TriCity Family Services, said in a news release about Mental Health Month.

"As we know, the majority of individuals who seek treatment from a primary care physician are reported as having psychosomatic issues with no underlying physical cause.

"Stress shows in the body in multiple ways, and we should continue to see wellness as holistic and multifaceted."

Health, wellness equals fun:

It takes some effort to live a healthy lifestyle, but the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce is preparing to provide plenty of information during an interactive, family-oriented event.

The Health & Wellness Fair, a business-to-consumer expo, is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center.

More than 40 local businesses will be on hand with information and interactive sessions about healthy living. Children's activities, food tastings and cooking demos are also scheduled.

Kids can't go wrong if they ask their parents to take them to this event.

The first 200 moms walking in the door will receive a gift as part of the kickoff to Mother's Day weekend.

Hickory Knolls, a 10,500-square-foot building near the edge of 130 acres of woodlands, is at 3795 Campton Hills Drive.

Misdirected criticism:

On social media, pot shots were taken at city officials because actor Donnie Wahlberg hasn't built a Wahlburgers restaurant in St. Charles.

A few years ago, Wahlberg was toying with the idea of building one near the Arcada Theater in what should eventually be the Gordy's QuickMart convenience store. (While city officials say everything is moving along fine for Gordy's, to the untrained eye that place seems stuck in the mud and not ready to open any time soon.)

Wahlberg and his wife, Jenny McCarthy, have made it pretty clear they enjoy living in the Tri-Cities area, so it made sense that he'd be thinking of a business venture here as well.

But to blame the city for not allowing Wahlberg to build a site here doesn't make sense. There were never any plans brought in front of the plan commission for a public hearing, which means the dollars and cents probably didn't make sense at this time for Wahlberg and his partners or investors.

It sounds like it would be a cool thing to have in town, but let's not try to pretend things were ready to roll before the city somehow wouldn't give its approval.

For now, in addition to restaurant sites, Wahlberg and his partners are busy getting their burgers available as an item in the grocery aisles at stores in the Boston area.

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