Chicago is a city known for its linebackers. When the owners of a new Naperville restaurant were searching for a name, they looked to the Bears and settled on The Linebacker Grille.
The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. Thursday in the former site of Show Me’s, 1126 E. Ogden Ave. Unlike that restaurant, , the owners of will focus on providing diners a family-friendly experience.
While the restaurant’s name is sports-related, it is not a sports bar, said Gary Beckner, general manager and one of the minority owners. Instead, Beckner said the restaurant’s goal is to provide diners with great food and great service.
“There are too many sports pubs around and not enough nice restaurants,” he said.
The restaurant's interior was updated to remove as much of the wood interior as possible, though some of it remains. Beckner said the fireplace is a nice focal point in the restaurant's dining room, which will be upscale, but not overly pricey.
The Linebacker Grille will offer 66 craft beers and help diners pair them with the food, he said. The restaurant has hired a chef who has successfully launched many restaurants. It also has a beer cicerone to help educate diners about the beers offered and the perfect pairings with the restaurant’s menu items.
All of the appetizers served—including wings, calamari, corned beef bites and the Santa Fe roll, a southwestern take on a spring roll—will be homemade and nothing will be frozen or reheated, Beckner said. Beyond appetizers, diners can also choose from soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, entrees and flatbreads. Prices range from about $6.95 for the classic flatbread up to $21.95 for the ribeye chimichurri.
Priced between $9.95 and $11.95, the burgers are named with numbers in homage to some of the Bears’ greatest linebackers, such as the Number 50 for Mike Singleterry, the Number 51 for Dick Butkus and the Number 54 for Brian Urlacher. Entrees at the restaurant include pork tenderloin, lamb chops, salmon, sausage and penne, sirloin, Amish Chicken and a ribeye chimichurri among the variety of items. The menu also includes a range of flatbread offerings.
Beginning in May, the restaurant will offer beer and wine dinners on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, Beckner said. A beer cicerone representing the featured brewery will be on hand to during the events to explain featured beers.
Children are also welcome at the restaurant, with kids menu options including the standard burger or cheeseburger, a gluten-free option, chicken strips, penne pasta or pizza. Items on the kids menu will always be $3.95, Beckner said
“Too many people charge too much for kids meals,” he said. “They eat two bites and they’re done.”
Beckner said the restaurant has about 50 employees on staff, all with service industry experience. On Monday, some of the employees were going through training, which requires passing daily tests in order to work on the floor.
The location has seen restaurants come and go, but Beckner, who has more than 20 years in the restaurant industry, said he is confident The Linebacker Grille will do well. In its first three months of business, Beckner said Show Me’s had good sales, but it didn’t draw repeat business due to service and food quality issues.
“With good food and good service, drawing customers won’t be a problem,” he said.
The Linebacker Grille opens at 5 p.m. Thursday. Initially, the restaurant will be open 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. They plan to be open on Mondays as well this summer. For more information, visit the website.