If all goes smoothly, the downtown Wilmette storefront formerly occupied by C.J. Arthur’s could be home to a new gastropub by late next spring.
Eight Wilmette families are investors and co-owners in the new project, with the goal of turning the 1168 Wilmette Ave. space into a new, family-friendly tavern and eatery serving “higher-end traditional bar food and other offerings.”
Jennifer Marino, who along with her husband Pete represents one of the eight family investors, said the project is still in its infant stages, and the group has yet to even hire an architect to plan renovations.
There is a vision, though.
“The goal is definitely to create a vibe and an ambience,” Marino said, “that when you walk through those doors, we want people to feel like, ‘This is it. This is what we needed. This is so exciting and we can’t wait to come back.’... I think that we can make it family friendly while still making it feel like you’re in a pretty cool, hip space.”
Marino said she envisions the pub as a place that can serve several demographics: families with children seeking a meal away from home, folks wanting to grab a beer and watch a game, or friends looking for a night out.
Tim Lenon, owner of the Wilmette eatery Fuel, and his wife Genny are also investors. Tim will likely serve as the pub’s general manager.
The menu is still being planned, but that in addition to burgers and bar fare, the spot will likely have salads and might incorporate some of Fuel’s farm-to-table philosophy in some dishes.
Yet, the planning process is sure to be fluid, Marino said, hurdles will arise and many details are still undecided. Marino called the late spring opening date a “perfect world scenario”, but said both the village and the Wilmette Chamber of Commerce have been helpful during the early stages.
When asked whether she feels pressure in filling the space that had been occupied by C.J. Arthur’s for 23 years before its September closing, Marino said she hoped the new pub would become a Wilmette institution in its own right.
“I think we have an opportunity to give in a nice refresh, make it our own, make it different,” Marino said. “We feel really luck that [the owners are] families from this community, who know this community and have a vested interest in bringing something to this area that we think everybody can benefit from. We have every intention to knock it out of the park and make it someplace that Wilmette and the North Shore communities are excited about.”