Two restaurants, one owner, similar timelines — April opening anticipated
By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (March 5, 2023) – The former Bakers Square and Jack’s Sports Pub will soon be replaced by Honey Berry Café and Bulldog Ale House, respectively. Both locations are hoped to open as soon as April.
Honey Berry Café
Honey Berry Café will be located at 3545 Ridge Road, near the intersection of Ridge Road and Wentworth Avenue. The location has sat empty since Bakers Square’s abrupt shuttering in January of 2020.
Honey Berry Café is a breakfast and lunch restaurant with 10 locations around the country, including six in Illinois.
Dani Landau is a representative of WeEat Hospitality Group, which will manage Honey Berry Café. In an appearance before the Village Board on February 7, he described the restaurant’s food as “fancy breakfast.”
“Pancakes are a main signature of the menu,” he said, making special reference to the “Signature HoneyBerry” pancakes, which include berry mascarpone filling, fresh berries, vanilla creme anglaise, and blackberry coulis. Other items on the large menu include omelets, skillets, wraps, sandwiches, and craft cocktails.
Landau said the location will open at 7 a.m. every day, and will close at 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends.
Bulldog Ale House
Bulldog Ale House will be the next iteration of Jack’s Sports Pub & Eatery, located at 3325 Ridge Road. Last year the owner of Jack’s sold the building to Wall Street Capital LLC — the same owner as Honey Berry Café — and WeEat Hospitality has taken over the management of the longtime Lansing establishment as it transitions to Bulldog Ale House.
Bulldog has nine current locations — all in the Chicago area. The restaurant, which prides itself on its “food & brews,” has a menu that includes basics like wings, burgers, tacos, and pizzas, as well as “signature” items that feature pasta, fish, and other entrées.
“Bulldog is a gastropub,” said David Wabick, a consultant with the Kreshmore Group that is working with both Bulldog and Honey Berry. “It’s very family-orientated; it’s not a party place where you stay til three in the morning. It’s got a lot of great food — I’ve been there a lot.”
Landau said Bulldog Ale House will have 40 beers on tap, including Bulldog house beers, local craft beers, and big-name beers. The location will also offer cocktails and wine.
Landau said all of the employees at Jack’s have been kept on, and are being trained to become familiar with the Bulldog menu and operations.
Both Bulldog Ale House and Honey Berry Café have appeared on recent Village Board agendas because they are requesting funds from the Village’s Ridge Road Tax Increment Financing District to aid in development costs. The TIF redevelopment agreements, which were approved on February 21, include a Village share of approximately $833,000 for Honey Berry, and $573,000 for Bulldog, totaling just over $1.4 million. The Village will recoup that amount through tax revenue generation at both of the businesses.
Trustee Saad Abbasy asked in the February 7 Committee of the Whole meeting how the Village would recoup its significant investment in Honey Berry Café if the business were to close.
Village Attorney Matt Welch explained the agreement contains provisions for such a situation, and the Village’s investment would be protected.
At the February 21 Board Meeting, Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust — who was absent at the February 7 meeting — voiced concerns over the gaming portion of Honey Berry’s request. The restaurant intends to have a handful of video gaming machines in a separate room from the rest of the restaurant.
Zeldenrust, who has voted against gambling-related proposals in the past, said, “I feel very concerned about it, and convicted about not approving a restaurant that has a gaming aspect to it.”
Zeldenrust made a motion to table the proposal to discuss alternatives with the owners, a motion that was ultimately voted down. Instead, the trustees voted 5-1 — with Zeldenrust dissenting — to approve the TIF redevelopment agreement for Honey Berry Café, with gaming included. The Trustees voted unanimously to approve a liquor license for Honey Berry, as well as a TIF redevelopment agreement for Bulldog Ale House — which also includes gaming.
Honey Berry Café will be located at 3545 Ridge Road. Bulldog Ale House will be located at 3325 Ridge Road.
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