Russell’s Barbecue is coming to Countryside
Legendary restaurant to occupy former home of Beef ‘N Brandy
By Steve Metsch
One of the Chicago area’s most famous barbecue restaurants plans to come to Countryside.
Russell’s Barbecue, located at 1621 Thatcher Ave., Elmwood Park, hopes to open a restaurant in the former Beef ‘N Brandy Restaurant, 5545 S. La Grange Road, Countryside City Administrator Gail Paul said.
She discussed the plan when she was among leaders from eight other communities at the recent “Talk of the Towns,” held at the William Tell Holiday Inn, 6201 Joliet Road, Countryside, and hosted by the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce.
Paul said Russell’s Barbecue will be discussed at a city plan commission meeting in November.
Russell’s manager Ben Tapia called Countryside “a great location.”
“Ever since news came out that we were interested in going there, we’ve had a lot of customers asking us when we’ll open up. We’re looking at six to eight months,” Tapia said.
Russell’s had two other locations in Glen Ellyn and Rolling Meadows that have since closed, he said.
“We’re excited. We’re looking forward to the new location, and to renovating the whole facility there. We plan to add a drive-thru if we can,” Tapia said.
The Beef ‘N Brandy has been closed several years. The building was purchased by Russell’s a few years ago, with the intent of leasing it out, Paul said.
A few years ago, the building was purchased by Russell’s, Paul said.
“So many developers were interested in it. Now, they’ve decided they are going to build out the current restaurant and open a second Russell’s Barbecue. It’s on our planning agenda for November. We are hoping construction starts soon,” Paul said.
Barbecue lovers should be thrilled. Russell’s has been open since 1930, and is a favorite of locals along with being a “destination restaurant.”
That menu, according to the web site, includes “classic barbecue beef, pork, and ham sandwiches and unique coleslaw cooked with the same ingredients and in the same way as they were in 1930.”
“Taking a bite is truly like taking a step back in time,” the web site says.
In 2010, Russell’s added “authentic pit smoked barbecue which includes smoked brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken.”
“After being covered in our signature blend of spices, we smoke our meats with hardwood for over 16 hours to perfection. In addition, we offer a variety of homemade soups, fresh salads, appetizers, and various sandwiches,” the site said.
In other business, Paul said progress is being made on the new municipal center, which will include a new city hall and police station, on the corner of Brainard Avenue and Joliet Road. The former Flame restaurant was demolished this week.
“We are working on the design phase. We are spending a lot of time looking for grants, which seem extremely scarce. Our goal is to have a LEED certified building and we are also striving for it to be a net zero building,” she said.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is certification program focused primarily on new, commercial-building projects. Net zero means the total amount of energy used by a building each year is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy produced on-site.
The city is working on getting, with help from ComEd, a clean energy grant from the state, “as well as significantly reduce the amount of energy that we use,” Paul said.
Right now, the tentative schedule has the new city hall and police station open in May of 2019, she said.
Work continues on a streetscape project that will see stamped concrete sidewalks on both sides of La Grange Road through the city’s busy commercial district north of Joliet Road.
“We want to make the city more pedestrian friendly,” Paul said.
The city also plans to install a bike path down Brainard from 55th Street to Joliet Road leading to the new city hall, and to a bike path in a Cook County Forest Preserve that is kitty-corner.
The village will install a welcoming sign at the northwest corner of Joliet and La Grange roads, she said, hopefully by year’s end.
Work is progression on the new Ettleson Hyundai dealership at 57th Street and La Grange Road, she said. Ettleson now leases a site on Joliet Road in Countryside and is expected to move next year.
“We’re happy Mr. Ettleson has decided to stay in Countryside because car dealerships are our backbone,” she said.
Father down the line, maybe in 2019 or 2020, she expects 55th Street to be widened between East Avenue and La Grange Road. The project would include dedicated turn and may have a median down 55th Street. IDOT will host a public hearing from 4 to 7 p.m., Oct. 26, at the Countryside City Hall, 5550 East Ave.
News from other local communities includes:
The village is working with the Dance Of Life Foundation to secure grants on redeveloping the former Willowbrook Ballroom, which burned down one year ago, village administrator Brent Woods said. Plans are for a performing arts theater and community center.
Woods suggested the chamber “become a clearinghouse of sorts for available business properties” throughout the area. He said he gives a chamber membership application to anyone applying for a business license.
Dominic Misasi, a Hodgkins trustee, said a 10-acre site long vacant at 6201 East Avenue is being developed for two businesses. One is Runnion Equipment Company, based in Lyons. Runnion sells, rents, and services construction equipment. The other is Advantage Chevrolet, which will sell new and used trucks, he said. The site is across from the AMC Quarry Cinema.
Ten apartment buildings on Lenzi Avenue, some of which had become dilapidated, have been acquired and demolished, with residents relocated, he said. The village is working on development plans, he said.
Nicholas Greifer, director of community & economic development, mentioned a nine-unit condominium building expected to open soon. And he stressed the importance of working closely with Brookfield Zoo on projects and events.
“It’s so instrumental because you have two million visitors coming to that part of our community and to western Cook County every year. That’s a great thing to have,” Greifer said. “It’s a testimony to the great recreational assets we have in this part of the county.”
The Dome Restaurant, a landmark at the corner of Joliet Road and Wolf Road in Indian Head Park, has been demolished, said village administrator John DuRocher. The village plans to study how to best develop the strip mall there.
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