Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the winter issue of Kendall County Magazine.
Even in the most temperate of times, the Fox River scarcely resembles a tropical riviera.
Open your mind’s eye, ears and taste buds, however, and Irma Castellanos thinks she might convince you otherwise.
Paradise Cove 220, which opened in downtown Yorkville in fall 2019, strives to transport visitors to an island getaway with its bevy of beach drinks and tropical food, plus a heaping helping of laid-back vibes.
“We love to stand out with our customer service,” says Castellanos, who with fellow Yorkville resident Donna Wood co-owns the establishment at 220 S. Bridge St. “I always say, when you can’t go on vacation, you can always come here and have a staycation. Walk out feeling relaxed.”
Considering the onset of winter weather and the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, who couldn’t use an escape these days?
For more than 20 years, Castellanos and Wood worked to help visitors forget about life’s problems while running the similarly themed Captain’s Cove Bar and Grill adjacent to the Starved Rock marina.
The coconut shrimp was warm, the jerk chicken sauce was warmer, and the beachy concoctions from the bar helped patrons prolong their escape all the while. Eager to look for something closer to home, Castellanos and Wood arranged a getaway of their own by taking over at the former spot of Capitano Deli & Sweets.
“Before the pandemic, we were doing really well, but now with everything that’s been going on, it’s kind of slowing down a little bit,” Castellanos says. “But, I mean, we’re surviving. That’s the most important thing.”
Restaurant brass remain confident that an impressive array of specialty drinks can help keep the operation afloat. Castellanos’ expertise in concocting cocktails kept visitors coming to Captain’s Cove, and she says many frequent visitors to that location have stopped by at Paradise Cove 220.
Whether their stool sat in Ottawa or Yorkville, visitors most frequently order the “No Shoes No Shirt No Problem,” a blend of Cruzan mango, raspberry and coconut rums along with pineapple, orange and a touch of cranberry juice.
The “Shrek” — so named by one of Castellanos’ children in the early 2000s for its resemblance to the titular green ogre in the animated family film — is also popular. The drink features a blend of Midori, Cruzan citrus rum and blue Curaçao, as well as pineapple and orange juice.
Most of the offerings on the drink menu are available as nonalcoholic “mocktails” as well. “We always say, if you can’t start with a good base, then it’s not going to do any good to add alcohol,” Castellanos says.
The food menu hangs its (Panama) hat on variety, but places a special emphasis on seafood. Chef Juan Castellanos, Irma’s son, and the rest of the kitchen staff hand-bread the restaurant’s coconut shrimp. Paradise Cove’s blackened mahi tacos are served with a special mango salsa, while the fried grouper taco comes with cilantro lime slaw. “Something that will complement the product that they’re eating and not overpower the fish that they are actually ordering,” she says.
Indeed, feeling overwhelmed is never the intent at Paradise Cove 220. That’s exactly the kind of thing folks come to escape.
Paradise Cove is located at 220 S. Bridge St. in Yorkville. Reach the store at 630-882-9964 or www.paradisecove220.com.