New Arlington Heights sports bar 'Blitz' hopes to capitalize on Bears' move to town
Though the first snap at a potential future Chicago Bears stadium at Arlington Park is years away, a new Arlington Heights sports bar opening later this month can't help but boast of its proximity to the shuttered racetrack -- only seven minutes away, its website touts.
And with football in the name and logo of Blitz Sports Bar & BBQ, its owners hope to capitalize on the team's possible relocation.
"Absolutely. That's what we're looking for," said Beto Huerta, who plans to open the new restaurant and bar at 286 W. Rand Road on Aug. 18. "I want to see families on Sunday watching football."
Huerta is converting the former JD's Q & Brew, which closed in early 2021, into a full-service restaurant that emphasizes many of the barbecue items of the old place: brisket, pulled pork, ribs, burnt ends and chicken wings. He decided to keep the oven intact and recruited five of the former employees to work, including the pitmaster.
Huerta is also keeping the drive-through -- "It's another cash register. We should take advantage," he says -- while adding a bar to serve beer and cocktails. He just got his Class AA liquor license from the village board this week.
Huerta's first sports bar comes after years of working at TGI Fridays, where he started his career in 2005.
"I made my way up from dishwasher, line cook, manager, general manager, and I was able to learn how to run a business," Huerta said.
Eventually, he became director of operations and came to oversee management of five locations, including the highest-volume one in Oak Lawn.
"I was just amazed. Even though I didn't go to a big college, Fridays provided that for me," Huerta said.
He went out on his own and opened his first restaurant in 2015 -- Salsa Street in Sleepy Hollow -- then expanded to locations in Palatine and Mount Prospect in the following years. And, as the pandemic was taking hold in 2020, he launched a Mexican seafood eatery, Islas Veracruz, which is just up the road in Palatine from Blitz.
"Call me crazy, but it was right in front of Walmart," he said. "It was a good opportunity, and the business is going very, very well."
Huerta is hiring 10 to 15 people to start in Arlington Heights, and he may increase that number to 25. He's been working on interior renovations since June, when his lease started. There are already signage and awnings installed in front.
"The excitement of people coming to that place -- they think we're open," he said.
When Blitz does open in about two weeks, daily opening hours are expected to be 11 a.m., with closing times at midnight on weeknights and 1 or 2 a.m. on weekends.