During his 26 years as a managing partner of Gibsons Restaurant Group, Gregg Horan helped open restaurants, like Gibsons and Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House, which became, as he calls them “institutions and community centerpieces.”
“They became gathering places for daily events or for special occasions,” Horan says. “That’s the kind of place we’d like to create, something that’s going to stand the test of time.”
Horan left Gibsons at the end of 2022 to open his own place, and he partnered with Bill Veremis, who spent 20 years as managing partner at the now-shuttered Rosewood Restaurant in Rosemont. About 35 miles northwest of Chicago, Veremis eyed a vacancy at an upscale shopping center, the Arboretum of South Barrington. And that’s where the duo plans to open the Greggory Hearth and Tavern in late 2023.
They’ve hired former RPM Steak executive chef Eddie Ishaq and, as the name suggests, they’ll use a hearth for live-fire cooking for a very Chicago experience: “I’m making a menu that fits everyone so you can have a burger and a beer or a steak and a big bottle of wine or a martini and a snack,” says Ishaq.
It will also have an open kitchen, which Horan says he loves because the flames will provide great visuals beyond the aesthetic designs of the front of the house. Ishaq has mixed feelings about his work being so exposed, even though he has plenty of experience working with open-fire grills and charcoal from his work at Wildfire and RPM. The goal of the broad menu will be to create a space that regulars can visit several times a week, sitting at the bar for a more casual experience or celebrating with showier dishes.
“We’re excited to do some whole fish and a variety of seafood,” Horan says. “We’re going to have fine steakhouse cuts for sure but also a focus on other roasted meats. The last restaurant I opened was Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar and I really loved some of the tableside presentations that we did there. The steak tartar in particular comes to mind. We definitely plan on doing some tableside presentations as a differentiator for the suburbs.”
Ishaq and Horan also hope to make the Greggory stand out through their sourcing, flying in fresh fish daily from Spain and Greece, and working with small farms for steaks.
“(Working at RPM) was a great experience,” Ishaq says. “I got to cook for high-end clients and celebrities and also work with different products from all over the world, from your truffles to your caviars to your wagyu. It took me to the next level.”
Doug Psaltis, the P in RPM, mentored Ishaq who started as a line cook at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ Wildfire after graduating from Kendall College. The LEYE former partner, who now co-owns Andros Taverna in Logan Square, introduced Ishaq to Horan. The Greggory will be 10,000 square feet including 3,000 square feet of private event space for parties of 80 to 100.
“We were originally looking for about 7,000 square feet, but this building just turned out to be a great opportunity for us,” Horan says. “We have challenges and we’re going to have to confront that with the design and in some respects. You’re going to have quieter days in South Barrington in February on a Monday, you’re going to have to figure out a way to make the dining room feel attractive, crowded, and active.”
The Greggory Tavern will open for dinner service but also plans to test out brunch. Veremis will likely take the lead on planning the beverage program, which will focus on American wines and an innovative cocktail program that can serve as another differentiator from other suburban spots. Horan is also looking at the possibility of opening additional locations or even starting his own restaurant group. He plans to spend 10 to 12 hours at the restaurant seven days a week when it opens: “My name is on the wall, and I’m going to be the guy at the front door,” he says. ”I think that personal touch is really important.”
The Greggory Hearth and Tavern, scheduled to open in late 2023.