If there was one word to describe The Grandstander, it would be “detailed”. David and Juliette Reyes are an incredibly focused duo, and they carefully structured each décor, menu, and service detail to match their vision.
I first heard about The Grandstander during my visit with Juliette Reyes at The Finery and Blacksmith Bar in St. Charles. As we were wrapping up our chat, I asked if they had any other projects in the works and Juliette shared that they were opening a new concept in Geneva. Fast forward a few weeks and you may have seen me peeking in the windows of the spot on Third Street, trying to successfully time when I could count on ordering my first beer there. Apparently I wasn’t the only nosy person – Juliette would later tell me that a ton of people stuck their heads in during construction in an attempt to learn more. They welcomed the attention and encouraged the construction crew to chat with future patrons.
The Grandstander is nestled on the south end of Third Street within easy walking distance from the Metra Train Station. I can imagine this makes it the perfect spot for someone to grab a drink, eat a great meal, and catch a game after a long day of work in the city! Ryan and I made it in on their second day open and were immediately impressed. The décor, music, menu, and staff all gave the place a great vibe. And unlike many other places we’ve been to during their opening periods, The Grandstander had more than enough servers, bartenders, and chefs to make sure we had everything we needed. We quickly decided this was going to be one of our "regular" spots.
Juliette and I found a time to meet about two weeks after The Grandstander opened. Ryan was planning to tag along so that we could eat dinner there, but was running a few minutes behind at work and promised to meet me there when he was done.
I was a few minutes early to our meeting, so I ordered a glass of wine and took a moment to really soak in all the work they did in renovating the space. I came to the conclusion that if there was one word to describe The Grandstander, it would be “detailed”. David and Juliette Reyes are an incredibly focused duo, and they carefully structured each décor, menu, and service detail to match their vision.
Juliette arrived with a big smile and we immediately began chatting about how great the space came together. She explained that the first year at The Finery and Blacksmith Bar had gone exceptionally well, and she and David were eager to open another concept in the area. They were confident that the strong team they had built at The Finery would allow them to launch a new spot quickly and successfully.
The idea for the place essentially came from a personal need – wanting a cool place to watch their beloved Chicago Blackhawks without being forced to eat another plate of mediocre nachos or soggy chicken fingers on a sticky bar top. I had to laugh out loud because that sentiment is entirely too accurate! I reassured her that she and David can’t be that far off the grid with this new concept as Ryan and I feel exactly the same.
David joined our chat just as Juliette began explaining that they started by choosing the name and logo, and drew inspiration for the menu and décor from there. The Grandstander name has sports backing – a grandstand is obviously the seating at a sports arena, but a grandstander can be a person who performs for a crowd to gain attention or impress onlookers. David explained the stars in the logo are representative of the stars on the Chicago flag, and the ivy in the logo is an ode to the ivy at Wrigley Field (the Chicago Cubs are his favorite team). The ivy also reflects the organic, farm-to-table ingredients they use in their dishes. I love that everything about their name and logo has a prideful, hometown feel.
Once they built a logo, they then had to actually build a space. They learned the owners of Matsuri Japanese Restaurant in Geneva were looking to retire, and they knew The Grandstander would be in great company there with spots like Barrel and Rye and Preservation Bread and Wine nearby. They set out to completely re-work the space with the help of their contractor, Tom.
David and Juliette wanted The Grandstander to have its own personality, but they also included a few simple details that are similar to The Finery and Blacksmith Bar. You’ll notice the white subway tile, the metal pipe footrests along the bar, and the tile below the silverware at your place setting are all familiar touches. The colors they chose for the décor were pulled from the logo, and they broke up the clean lines of the bar area with unique shelving that features different depths and levels. By far, one of the most noticeable elements is the floor, which took Tom and his crew two full days to complete. The stained, swirled design on the concrete is not only durable - it’s totally eye-catching.
Just as they did at The Finery, they went through several drafts of the menu before they settled on what they wanted to offer. They held an employee tasting day, which allowed them to make final tweaks in a real-time way. The staff sampled each item and gave immediate feedback, which allowed the chefs to meticulously perfect their methods on the spot. You’ll find shareable appetizers, fresh salads, house-made sausages, and entrees that all serve as a refreshing new take on traditional bar food. Juliette explained that the kitchen at The Grandstander is only about a third of the size of The Finery, so it challenges the chefs to make everything fresh as it is ordered.
The drink options are just as grand (like my play on words?) as the menu. The Grandstander features 18 domestic and craft beers on tap, an extensive bottle list, and a great balance of whiskeys and wines. Ryan has fallen in love with their Grand Fashioned, which is their take on a traditional Old Fashioned. David and Juliette said they did a lot of trial and error with their cocktails. They feel the ratios, the order of mixing each ingredient, and the overall time taken to craft a good drink is so important.
David said that at the end of the day, the only thing that people will ever leave feeling one hundred percent with is exceptional service. He recognizes that you can't be everything to everyone, but if you like great food, carefully crafted drinks, and sports, The Grandstander will be a good spot for you. I agree!
When we wrapped up our conversation Ryan was still a few minutes out, so I quickly snapped a few photos while I was waiting. When Ryan arrived, David and Juliette both made it a point to come back out and say hi to him and chat for a few minutes. Talk about great hosts!
Ryan finally had a moment to breathe after a long day, and opted to start out with his favorite - the Grand Fashioned. Later on the night he also tried their take on a Mule, which he also loved. It was fun to watch each drink being made - the bartender truly took the time to make sure each ingredient was carefully measured, mixed, and presented - just as David and Juliette had said!
We wanted to try a few items off the menu, and started out by splitting the Hearty Kale Smoke Chicken Salad. It was incredible! I would literally eat this every day if I could. It had so much flavor, and each ingredient was incredibly fresh. I'm a sucker for a good caesar.
Juliette had mentioned the Lobster Capelinni was a customer favorite so far, so I opted to order it as my entree and was not at all disappointed. The basil, preserved lemon, chili, tomato, and sofrito complimented the lobster and capelinni pasta wonderfully. It was incredibly filling, so I took about half home to enjoy later.
Ryan ordered the Grandstander Burger, which was stacked with pickles, caramelized onions, iceberg, tomato, american cheese, and secret sauce. I stole a bite of his burger and grabbed a fry (okay, maybe two!) so I can attest to it also being perfectly made.
Another great thing is that their kitchen stays open late, so you always have some delicious food options available to you when there is a late game on. We've already taken advantage of that a few times now, ha!
Be sure to try The Grandstander, and don't forget to head over to The Finery and Blacksmith Bar if you haven't been there yet either! I can't wait to see what else David and Juliette dream up in the future!
507 S Third Street, Geneva, IL 60134
Daily: 11AM - 12 MIDNIGHT
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