Geneva property owner says don't blame location

Updated 6/18/2018 9:37 AM
  • Firewater BBQ is preparing to open in the space previously occupied by the shuttered Urban Grille and Juliette. The property owner disagrees with those who suggest the location was a factor in the other restaurants' failures.

      Firewater BBQ is preparing to open in the space previously occupied by the shuttered Urban Grille and Juliette. The property owner disagrees with those who suggest the location was a factor in the other restaurants' failures. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Every time he hears or reads about someone saying the location and lack of parking at 524 W. State St. in Geneva has made it difficult for restaurant operators at that site, David Wagenaar of Plan C Properties likely senses his blood pressure rise a bit.

As the owner of that property, Wagenaar is confident that the Firewater BBQ joint that will be his next tenant this summer will provide the things that matter -- great food at reasonable pricing.

After all, the spot that formerly housed Urban Grille and Juliette is only a block away from Bien Trucha, which has proved to be one of the more popular eateries in the Western suburbs, let alone Geneva.

So Wagenaar is not inclined to believe that the perception of a lack of parking or being off the main Third Street or State Street strips represents a major detriment to an eatery at that spot.

Wagenaar points to the Bien Trucha reality, and the fact that Urban Grille was in operation for six years at that site as evidence to support his position. He believes Firewater will deliver the goods and residents who want southern barbecue will find their way to the restaurant no matter what.

And let's not forget the site will have parking for 30 cars right behind it during evening hours when it opens this summer.

I don't have much doubt Firewater has quite a good shot at doing well at that spot, but what I think or what Wagenaar thinks isn't likely to shoo away the perception that the location isn't as ideal as being planted along Third Street, or at least closer to the State and Third intersection.

However, I agree the greatest location in the city wouldn't matter a bit if a restaurant operation wasn't precise and efficient with its service, or was pricing its menu higher than what residents feel is fair for the quality of the food.

Make those two factors what people enthusiastically rave about as best features, then you could have your location in a tree house and people would figure out how to get up there.

Filling the lunch void: It's fairly easy to recognize the spiritual lift a church can provide when you are a steady attendee, but it's also easy to overlook the many other things that our houses of worship provide.

Food most definitely comes to mind. The number of food pantry operations and free community dinners that take place throughout the area say much about our towns.

Another example takes place again this summer as the St. Patrick Parish Service Planning Committee in St. Charles will provide a free sack lunch to school-aged children who might not otherwise receive a lunch during summer months.

The thought behind this is that many children are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch during a school year, but that service goes away when school closes for the summer.

No registration or paperwork is required to participate, and the Sack Lunch Program, which started last week, is offered from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 15 at Redeemer Fellowship Church, 1125 Oak St. in St. Charles.

The best part? They are offering what I basically lived on during my college years.

It's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, along with a juice box, bag of chips, treats and a fruit pouch. Peanut-free sandwiches are available for those with peanut allergies.

Those seeking more information or wishing to donate or volunteer to help can contact Megan Glenn at

Cash was flowing: Sure, it rained all day and it wiped out the star-studded golf outing at St. Charles Country Club on May 21, but organizers of the Golf. Give. Gala event were quite pleased with the end result.

In the end, it rained money.

The fundraising efforts for the Michael Phelps Foundation and the Jason and Ellie Day's Brighter Days Foundation netted $1 million.

The money raised at the two-day St. Charles event featuring those star athletes will also help local causes, organizers said.

It's the food booths: It may not be the wisest thing in terms of one's diet, but I never let a few calories or sodium get in the way of what I believe is an important part of Geneva's Swedish Days.

I always make a purchase at the food booths manned by local service clubs, churches or restaurants taking the time and effort to provide that service during the six-day festival that kicks off Tuesday.

I'm a big "street food" fan to begin with, so supporting the Jaycees, Lions or others working the booths is a no-brainer.

Food is definitely a fun part of any festival, but what makes Swedish Days click is that putting the main entertainment stage on Third Street in front of the courthouse lawn is the perfect setting.

Spend day wisely: Looking back on it now, I spent far too many Father's Days in the late 1980s and through the '90s playing softball in the St. Charles Park District's Sunday league. My theory at the time was, this is my day, so I get to do what I want.

Sure, it was fun, especially when my son got old enough to come to the games. Plus, my wife had grown used to me spending parts of my weekend getting sweaty and dirty on a softball field.

But my suggestion to young dads today is there are plenty of other Sundays to do those types of things. While the attention is on Dad today, maybe the dad's attention should fully be on his kids as well.

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