Granite City Food & Brewery, led by CEO and St. Charles resident Rob Doran, is planning to open its doors on October 15, 2014. This restaurant will be the newest eating option on Freedom Drive, in an area that already includes Maggiano's, Cooper's Hawk, Zapatista, Jason's Deli, Brick's Wood Fired Pizza and Naf Naf Grill. This Naperville location will be the 31st Granite City location to open since 1999.
"Granite City started really as a dinner house that happened to have a brewery," Doran said about the restaurant's roots in St. Cloud, Minnesota, near Minneapolis. "The food is always the star."
Steaks, burgers, macaroni and cheese and flatbread pizzas are all part of a "pretty broad menu" with entree options ranging from $10 to $30.
"We see ourselves as more polished casual, almost a more of a gastropub as opposed to a brewery," Doran said. "All our food is made from scratch."
Granite City's beers also are house-made, but the process begins at a brewery in Iowa. A brewmaster there forms the base of each beer, a sweet liquid called wort, then sends it out to each Granite City restaurant where the five-week fermentation process is finished. Starting each beer at the same location allows the same water source to be used, resulting in a consistent taste, and saves the restaurants the space they would need to store barley and hops, Doran said.
The new restaurant gained permission from the Naperville City Council to sell its brews in take-home growlers, which hold 67 ounces.
"People said 'We like your beer, we'd like to be able to take some home,'" Doran said. "It's kind of a fun thing. We usually do a lot of specials around growler refills and growler nights."
When Since Doran bought Granite City in 2011, he said he has eyed the I-88 corridor near Naperville Road as a good site for the restaurant. He connected with Superhost Enterprise, which is developing the Abriter Court site as part of Freedom Plaza, at a convention and said he was glad to land a site he calls a "great opportunity."
Granite City plans to hire about 150 people for the Naperville restaurant with interviews likely beginning in mid-September.
It will be the first restaurant to open at the Freedom Plaza development, which will be anchored by a 168-room Embassy Suites hotel with a conference and ballroom facility to seat at least 1,000. Three other restaurants are planned for the site but have not yet been named.