Freshman, The Graceful Ordinary tackles local angles


One notable plus comes to mind when you consider that The Graceful Ordinary restaurant in downtown St. Charles has been open for nearly a year. It’s much better to have an upscale restaurant on the Fox River than an empty Harris Bank building.

Most of us can understand the concept of a new development improving physical appearance and creating jobs. But digging deeper into The Graceful Ordinary’s history tells us something more meaningful, because it not only benefits the diners of this 3 E. Main St., but also its employees and the Fox Valley region as a whole. together.

Most restaurant employees are local. Many have years of experience at some of Chicago’s most popular restaurants. Essentially, they now have a similar experience without the ride.

It reminds me of the owner of the All-Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva, pastry chef Alain Roby, who worked for years as an international celebrity chef in downtown Chicago. But he was tired of driving around town, so he started his new business in his hometown of Geneva.

Translate that to The Graceful Ordinary, and owners Megan and Chris Curren believe they helped pave the way for Kane County natives to pursue lifelong roles as professional chefs, bartenders and servers with the Leadership Strategies and the tools necessary to achieve the highest recognition and accolades in the industry. , like the James Beard Awards, in their community.

It’s just part of what it takes to hire and keep quality staff in the restaurant world.

“We’ve been able to recruit and retain incredible staff,” said Meg Curren. “They are the lifeblood of our business. We want our team to be proud of where they work. We can’t promise there will be sunshine and rainbows all day, every day. But we do what we can to make sure they feel valued, appreciated, have the tools they need to succeed, and aren’t micromanaged.”


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Curren acknowledges that his employees work hard but “also have a life outside of our restaurant.” It makes the Currens’ core mantra that “our only hope is that as long as they’re here with us, it’s worth it to them,” she added.

The Graceful Ordinary soon became involved in community events and fundraisers for CASA Kane County, Cal’s Angels (childhood cancer), and local school and mental health organizations. The restaurant will host the “Art of the Dessert” fundraiser on Monday, November 21 for the St. Charles Arts Council.

In the meantime, the restaurant business remains challenging, especially these days. Chris Curren wants The Graceful Ordinary to stay on top of that curve by continuing to attract new customers and meet the challenges of the pandemic at the same time.

“Being located on Main Street, we see a lot of pedestrians, especially during parades and downtown festivals,” Chris noted. “Even if people don’t visit us the first time they pass by, we are always on their minds for future visits. We get a lot of comments about how wonderful it is to see this building being used again, and we’ve seen it have a positive impact on the community – that in itself is worth it.”

Chris thinks navigating the COVID outbreaks has gotten easier for almost everyone. When the restaurant opened in November 2021, COVID was on the rise and a vaccinated employee tested positive while not at work.

“At that time, we called for closure until everyone on our team had enough time to get tested,” he added. “When everyone came back with negative test results, we were able to reopen the following weekend.”

Chris said everyone has more confidence in self-managing COVID challenges, which makes it more comfortable for people in social situations.

As The Graceful Ordinary celebrates its one-year anniversary on Sunday, November 6, the Currens rely as much on good food, good service and word-of-mouth as they do on marketing to attract new diners.

“We strive to provide a great experience for each of our customers, and we find that we often attract new customers by hearing about us from their friends,” Megan said. “That being said, as we approach our first anniversary, we hope to continue to welcome new visitors for a long time to come.”

Your dining checklist:

As the previous article on The Graceful Ordinary illustrates, many new restaurants have popped up in old restaurant or retail locations.

Yet, in a recent conversation with some people at a social event, the subject of restaurants came up and I mentioned The Graceful Ordinary. Surprisingly, some were unaware – and that was local people.

To help raise awareness, I’ve developed a checklist that reminds readers of new restaurants that have opened or will soon open in previously empty locations. I wrote or at least mentioned most of them earlier. So let’s get started.

In Geneva, an interesting “greens and grains” restaurant concept known as Currito draws good crowds to the old Boston Market building at 1873 S. Randall Road.

We are awaiting the transformation of a few locations in the Geneva Commons, with an El Jefe Mexican restaurant planned for the former Bar Louie site and a new breakfast restaurant called First Watch café set to take over the empty Claddagh Irish Pub.

It was slow, but a Popeyes was scheduled for the old Kentucky Fried Chicken spot at 1518 S. Randall Road.

Mexican restaurant Los Cantaritos began operating in the Shops of Randall Square shopping strip at 1772 S. Randall Road in the former location of China Taste.

In downtown Geneva, as recently reported, Mandrake Small Plates and Libations is moving into Ristorante Chianti at 201 S. Third St.

In Batavia, Pal Joey’s Restaurant & Bar is making the most news since returning to its former site at 31 N. River St., after a short stint on Randall Road in the former Golden Corral location at 2030 Main St.

WindMill Grille and Pizzeria opened at 90 N. Island Ave. where Aliano’s Restaurant once stood, while Mirus Batavia’s small-plate restaurant with wine and cocktails opened at 15 E. Wilson St., Gaetano’s former location.

At 220 N. Randall Road, Chicken Salad Chick will soon be opening in the old Crabby Boil building near the Menards Hardware Store.

In St. Charles, Chums Shrimp Shack has taken up residence in the old Beef Shack at 2115 W. Main St., but little progress has been made for the planned new Beef Shack, as it has yet to open. at the southeast corner of Main and Randall in St. Charles.

Mio Modo is essentially the new name for the old Francesca’s, as the same restaurant management group is in charge at 200 S. Second St..

Meanwhile, Moto iMoto operates at 1 S. First St. in the former location of Wok ‘n Fire. This means Wok ‘N Fire was on the move, eventually landing in the old Sweet Tomatoes building at 2801 E. Main St.

Go crazy for cocoa

Imagine having a sheet of 17 tickets to use to enjoy cocoa drinks at various locations in downtown Geneva.

For $20, this ticket sheet is yours to participate in the Geneva Chamber Cocoa Crawl 2022 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 5, throughout downtown and beyond.

Tickets can be purchased at genevachamber.com, with companies and their drink selections listed on the order page. Tickets can be picked up at the office upstairs in the Geneva Chamber at 8 S. Third St. during opening hours on November 4 or at the Geneva Visitor Center, 10 S. Third St., from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov 5.

The event, in which one ticket is used for each cocoa sample, is suitable for adults and children.

Some cocoa drinks may contain alcohol, but non-alcoholic options are available.

Remember Paul and Orv

Spotting a tribute to Paul Bergeson and his wife Ethyl on a bench plaque in the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles reminded me of how Paul and Orv Jones, who died a few weeks ago at age 94 , have been a great help. when I first started out as a sportswriter. Bergeson, who died in 2018 at the age of 91, was the athletic director of St. Charles High School, while Jones handled everything at school, from teaching to coaching and maintaining official scores during matches. In short, they touched many lives.

They definitely helped me when I became a Tri-Cities sports editor at Chronicle Newspapers in 1978 after about nine months in Elburn reporting on the Western Townships and Central and Kaneland school districts.

It’s easy to remember people like this for the rest of your life because of one trait we can all adopt: being super friendly.

Some people have to work hard for it. Paul and Orv did not. It came naturally to them.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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