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Ambitious Western Suburban Restaurant Aims for a City-Caliber Experience

The Elm is pegged for a December opening in La Grange

A computer-generated rendering of a brick-faced restaurant with two levels.
A rendering of the Elm.
The Elm [Official Photo]
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The Elm is an ambitious new restaurant pegged for an early December opening in La Grange that hopes to give western suburbanites a Chicago-esque dining experience. It’s a two-level space with a private event room at 23 W. Harris Avenue in La Grange. The owners want to give residents living in towns like Clarendon Hills, La Grange, Hinsdale, and Western Springs an option when they don’t want to sit in traffic and commute to Chicago.

Hospitality is in owner Dan Spain’s blood. He recently found out his grandfather ran a bar on the city’s South Side. Spain and wife Caitlin Spain feel suburban dwellers deserve a different dining experience (not just chain restaurants). They want to be family friendly and to provide an evening escape. The Spains feel the Western Suburbs are begging for attention, and the locals have money to spend.

“The vibe’s going to be upscale, the food is just going to be something the Western Suburbs hasn’t seen,” Dan Spain said.

The Elm’s chef is Eddie Jobin. He most recently worked at Parkers’s American Restaurant & Bar in suburban Downers Grove, so he knows a little bit about the area. He’ll have a family friendly menu so parents could take their children for lunch. Jobin wouldn’t share any specific items on the contemporary-American menu, but he intends to include more sophisticated items for dinner.

“I don’t know, my family never agreed on anything on the menu,” Dan Spain said.

The buildout includes an outdoor bar on the second floor and it’ll have fire pits and heat lamps for colder months. There’s also a 20-seat U-shaped bar on the first floor (it’s 13,000 square foot total). Dan Spain is excited about the private events spaces. Suburban dwellers need a modern room for receptions, he said.