With a nod to the past and an eye toward the future, the newly branded Brandt's of Palatine, 807 W. Northwest Highway, is now open for business.
When you walk in, the layout, for those who previously patronized Brandt’s the Little Café, is strikingly similar. The lighting is still low with colorful hanging celing lamps, the bar and dinner seating is where it has always been, but the ‘Pub Room’ is definitely a new highlight.
Off to the right and down a few stairs, the room is lined with all wood walls and stone floors, and offers four pub tables along with bar stools across a counter against the west wall.
Three large screen televisions offer an opportunity for patrons to enjoy sporting events, and a chance to enjoy a more secluded experience while enjoying a cocktail, meal, or both.
A unique and personal memento in the Pub Room corner is owned by . It is a 7.5 foot tall replica bottle cap folk art figure that was built for Oswald by his brother. Oswald is currently working with Guinness World Record to determine if it is the largest figure of its kind in existence.
The restaurant menu has undergone some changes as well.
A number of new appetizers, including Slider’s - made with the same fresh-not- frozen beef as the infamous Brandt Burger – along with steak and cilantro empanadas, calamari and jumbo soft pretzels to name just a handful.
The Brandt’s Burger is a staple on the menu, and an item that Oswald and Iuorio have made sure maintains the high quality of its predecessor.
A wide selection of wraps and sandwiches also have been added, in addition to Baby Back ribs prepared with a special rub, a steak special and fish and chips on Fridays.
A children’s menu, dubbed Brandt’s Buddies, offers several selections to children 10 and under, with free Homer’s ice cream included Monday through Thursday.
The business also boasts a broader wine selection, in addition to the standard imports, domestics and draft beer.
Other noticeable changes include a new roof, and new fascia and siding on the exterior of the building.
Opening its Doors
On Monday, Brandt’s of Palatine opened for the friends and family of Oswald and Iuorio. Tuesday, a soft opening was held and a different group got the chance to check out the changes and updates, while giving the owners an opportunity to give the restaurant a first trial run.
"What we've learned so far is that people put a lot of value in this place," said Iuorio.
Oswald and Iuorio made sure to hire as many of the previous employees of Brandt’s the Little Café as possible, including wait and bar staff, in addition to cooks.
“We hired back more than 70 percent of employees who worked at Brandt's until it closed in January, as well as waitresses who worked here years ago,” Iuorio said.
Cherie Maxwell is one of those waitresses, who started working at Brandt’s the Little Café in 1985 and worked there into the late 1990’s.
“The food has always been phenomenal, and it still is; we use the same quality products for everything on our menu,” Maxwell said. “What I can say is Brandt’s of Palatine truly respects the history and quality of the Brandt’s name, not only with the menu but with the entire feel of this place.”
Patrons also agree Iuorio and Oswald have been successful in maintaining the atmosphere that made the restaurant such a special place for so many years.
“My first thought was that it was nice to see a lot of the same people, it still feels very much like a neighborhood place,” said Nancy Rover, a Rolling Meadows resident who frequented Brandt’s the Little Café years ago.
“We moved to Palatine in 1984 down the street, and while we were renovating our house, we would come to Brandt’s to take breaks - we would end up staying longer than anticipated because it is such a comfortable place to be,” said Debbie Szewczyk, Palatine resident, who was at the restaurant Wednesday along with her husband Marty.
Szewczyk added that she is impressed with what Iuorio and Oswald have done.
“It is still very warm here, they really have brought this place back to life,” she said.
Iuorio and Oswald said that is exactly what they were aiming for when they decided to buy the restaurant earlier this year.
“Brandt’s has always been a gathering place for young and old, it’s a very diverse crowd here, and a place where everyone in the community can come and enjoy,” Oswald said.
Homemade food, a friendly and upbeat atmosphere, with respect toward the years and years of history the Brandt’s name represents, it really is a place for the community to come together, Iuorio said.
“It has always been about family and friends,” he said.
Other planned, future changes include a larger, women's only bathroom upstairs, paving for the parking lot and building a deck on the outside in the coming months, Oswald said.
Bartender Tommy Stewart, who worked at Brandt's from 1986 all the way up until it closed its doors in January, was more pointed in his thoughts.
“I’m just happy to be back,” he said.
Brandt’s of Palatine will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until midnight. The business will be closed on Sunday.
For more information, call 847-496-4388 or visit the Brandt's of Palatine website.
Click here for some history on the Brandt's of Palatine building.