'The perfect place': Gordon Ramsay talks about adapting one of his restaurants to Naperville
Gordon Ramsay has opened acclaimed restaurants throughout the country and around the world.
Next stop, Naperville.
In an exclusive interview, the celebrity chef discussed the reasons behind choosing the Western suburbs of Chicago for his latest venture. He also talked about what to expect when Ramsay's Kitchen -- just the third location of that particular Ramsay restaurant in the U.S., joining those in Boston and Las Vegas -- is expected to open this spring in downtown Naperville.
"Ramsay's Kitchen, to me, is more than just a city restaurant," Ramsay said in an email. "It's a restaurant we can open and adapt to the local community, and I think Naperville is the perfect place to allow us to do just that."
Through the years, Naperville developed a vibrant restaurant community. Adding a Ramsay restaurant, though, brings a different level of buzz. Ramsay's Kitchen will be at 39 W. Jefferson Ave., the site of the former Ted's Montana Grill and Oswald's Pharmacy just west of South Washington Street.
The Michelin-star-winning British chef vaulted to superstardom in the last two decades as the host of popular television shows such as "Hell's Kitchen," "MasterChef" and "Kitchen Nightmares."
Along the way, Ramsay built a worldwide dining empire. From London to Malaysia and from New York City to the United Arab Emirates, he created a variety of eating experiences through his restaurants.
In addition to Ramsay's Kitchen, his 21 restaurants in the U.S. include Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay Burger, Gordon Ramsay Fish and Chips, Gordon Ramsay Food Market, Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill, and Gordon Ramsay Steak.
Faced with all those options, he chose Ramsay's Kitchen for Naperville.
"Ramsay's Kitchen can easily mold within the community and adapt," Ramsay said. "A Hell's Kitchen didn't feel right because it's an experience that thrives on a city clientele."
His closest restaurant in the area is a Gordon Ramsay Burger in Chicago.
The 5,600-square-foot space on Jefferson Avenue will accommodate more than 160 guests with a bar and lounge, main dining room, two private dining areas and a seasonal patio. The open-concept kitchen will give visitors a firsthand look at the culinary team at work.
The bar's custom millwork will reference the pharmacy that occupied the space for more than 100 years. The original limestone wall, built from the old quarry at Centennial Beach, will remain.
Job postings are listed on the Gordon Ramsay Restaurants website for the Naperville location, including for a general manager and executive chef. He and his team will be looking for specific talent as they fill 120 openings to create a vibe fitting the area.
"Boston and Vegas both have a Ramsay's Kitchen, but we deliver a slightly different experience as we've adapted to our location," he said. "We can't be too showy and glamorized like we are in Vegas. I hope we feel homey and welcome all of our guests in like they're family."
Ramsay said to "stay tuned" for expansion news in other suburban Chicago markets, but for now the focus is on Naperville. He said Ramsay's Kitchen menu classics from Boston and Las Vegas -- a variety of beef, seafood and pasta dishes -- will be featured. He said there also will be "some Midwest flair" to the Naperville menu in addition to signature items such as pan-seared scallops and sticky toffee pudding.
Asked to pick the one menu item customers will fall in love with, Ramsay didn't mince words.
"Isn't it obvious?" he said. "Beef Wellington!"
Ramsay also hinted at a Naperville visit in the future.
"I've been to the Chicago area many times and heard great things about the surrounding areas, especially Naperville and its bustling food scene," he said. "I can't wait to get out there."