A new restaurant is set to open at the Wilmette Golf Club within the next few months, pending the Wilmette Park Board’s stamp of approval in April.
The Lawn — which would not only be the new restaurant at the Wilmette Golf Club, but also its food and beverage provider — could open by late spring, park officials said.
Steve Wilson, executive director of the Wilmette Park District, said The Lawn will offer a variety of food options.
“They’re going to be providing all food and beverage services to the golf course operations, whether it’s on the course or in the restaurant space or for someone who comes and has a private event at the facility,” Wilson told The Record. “They’ll do it all, from appetizers to entrees to desserts to drinks and juices and smoothies.”
The Lawn will replace A La Carte Grill, the clubhouse’s previous restaurant since 2018. A La Carte’s contract with the park district expired at the end of 2021.
The Lawn is recommended for approval by the Park Board’s Golf Operations Committee, which oversees the Wilmette Golf Club.
According to the Golf Committee minutes, 14 potential vendors expressed interest in the restaurant, with six ultimately submitting proposals, including The Lawn and A La Carte.
A La Carte owner Christi DeClemente Harlow, a Wilmette native, also addressed the Park Board in January to make a case for her business to remain in the clubhouse.
“I’ve already proven the last four years that I’ve been very successful at the golf club,” she said at the meeting. ” … Whatever your decision, I feel very strongly that I would like to continue to do the food business there.”
Wilson said a number of factors made The Lawn stand out among the proposals, primarily its proposal fit the Park Board’s desire to modernize and upgrade its food and beverage offerings.
According to park documents, The Lawn requested updates to the facilities along with its proposal. In Golf Committee’s minutes, the park district noted that The Lawn’s proposal “describes a specific vision for the space. Ideas are current, modern and could be very successful with golfers at the facility. The menu has positive changes and would provide for different quality options for patrons.”
The minutes went on to say that “The Lawn would likely operate as much as a bar as any proposal received. There would still be restaurant and event service and restaurant seating but expand on the bar concept.”
Additionally, The Lawn is led by an individual familiar with the task at hand.
“This operation has a group of individuals that are true restauranteurs that have really good experience operating restaurants,” Wilson said. “But also, on top of it, the lead individual within this group (Michael Madden) grew up in Wilmette, is a golfer, is a golfer at our golf course, and has all of the knowledge needed to understand not only running a restaurant, but also serving the golf community and that’s what made them stand apart.”
If approved by the Park Board, The Lawn would have to wait for renovations to be complete before it can fully move in. He added that the golf course’s kitchen remains operational and food can be served outside, but the interior of the restaurant is not ready.
Wilson said the goal is to get The Lawn up and running by Memorial Day weekend.
The community got to experience a taste of The Lawn March 5 when the golf club held its “St. Pathy’s Day Stroll” event, which kicked off the club’s 100th season and celebrated the completion and dedication of the new cart path. The Lawn was the food provider, and according to Wilson, it was a success.
“They hit a home run with it, or a hole in one, if you will,” he said. “We’re excited for everything they’re going to bring to the community because their first step out of the gate was a good one.”
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Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.