Historic barn inspires a new restaurant in Bartlett
Le P'tit is a bar and eatery concept that founder Rakesh Chopra hopes to not only be the talk of Bartlett, but also the state.
Bartlett's village board discussed the proposal earlier this week, but it still has to clear the village's plan commission and zoning board as well as complete some site work.
Chopra's proposed restaurant is inspired by French and Spanish culture and cuisine. Along with drinks and tapas, it will have fresh crepes, and grill-to-plate offerings during the warmer months.
Chopra said he wants to create a quaint and peaceful ambience, an environment where people can relax and connect with one another. He also hopes to host live entertainment outdoors once in a while, too.
The restaurant will be housed in a barn built in 1882. Designated a historical building by the Bartlett Historical Society, it has been owned by Jan and Bruce Suffern for nearly 39 years.
During that time, it has served many functions. At one point it was the location for the Jaycees' haunted housed for a stint, and most recently it was an antique mall.
Jan Suffern said they began noticing a change in demand and interest after the pandemic, and were interested in doing something new with the property. She said they wanted to work with Chopra because he is a "risk taker" and a "brilliant chef."
Ideas for Le P'tit began eight months ago, Chopra said.
They are working on a number of renovations, from windows and doors to the flooring and the bar. To comply with city requirements, they also must build two bathrooms and establish a water and sewer service connection.
The pandemic has been a challenge, though. Chopra has lost money, taken out loans and acquired debt for renovations, but it doesn't stop him.
"The passion is here," Chopra said. "In the end I think it'll be a hit."
Chopra has been in the restaurant industry for 35 years and owns several other restaurants in Bartlett. Each of his locations are unique fusions of international cooking that fulfill a niche spot in the market.
He said he didn't know where his concepts come from.
"It's God's gift," Chopra said.
Tony Fradin, the village's economic development coordinator, said he expects Le P'tit to be successful and is optimistic about the community's response.
Le P'tit still needs to obtain special use permits for serving alcohol, outdoor dining and entertainment, Fradin said. He said the biggest challenges they face, though, is making sure the historic building is up to code.
While Chopra and the Sufferns have a way to go, they have applied for a Bartlett Economic Development Assistance grant to help offset the cost of the project, Fradin said.
Chopra said he is hoping to open next spring at the earliest.