Gilson’s fans seeking quality food at a lower price point can look forward to the opening of The Big Black Dog Tavern & Grill in Wilmette this fall.
Operated by Gilson’s co-owner Chuck Rometty, the family-friendly restaurant will take over The Crystal Cave’s former location at 1141 Central Ave. Its menu will blend barbecue and upscale bar food paired with wine and a list of about 50 beers from around the world. While entrees at Gilson’s peak at $28.95, no dishes at The Big Black Dog will cost more than $19.99.
“If they like the way we do things here, they’re going to really like the Big Black Dog Tavern,” Rometty said. “We’re going to focus on food quality and a great customer experience and still keep it a neighborhood place with great service.”
Rometty said he plans to hire about 15 people for the new space, but some cooks and servers from Gilson’s plan on working at both restaurants.
“It gives the people who work for me more flexibility in terms of when they work and how much they work,” he said.
Hub for Viewing Football
The spot will feature an Internet jukebox and multiple TVs broadcasting sports. The goal is to make the restaurant a hub for football watching. It will seat 85 people, with outdoor seating available in the spring. A private room will host parties and the restaurant will offer catering and private pig roasts. Rometty said The Big Black Dog will also be better equipped to handle big groups and team sport lunches than Gilson’s is.
Four to six of the beers the restaurant serves will be on draft, with the rest available by the bottle, which Rometty said makes it easier to keep a big selection and change things up.
“I want to be able to keep the variety there, make sure it stays nice and fresh,” he said.
The Crystal Cave’s move to Glenview gave Rometty the perfect space, but he said the inspiration to open a second spot in Wilmette came from his customers.
“People just talk to me all the time and give me ideas and approach me about doing more things in Wilmette because they like what we did at Gilson’s,” he said. “People are looking for another option in Wilmette.”