Explosion of new restaurants opening in St. Charles, including three downtown

Beef Shack is taking over the former TitleMax building at 2015 W. Main St., St. Charles, west of the downtown. The restaurant is expected to open in the spring.

St. Charles’ restaurant scene continues to grow with the recent opening of four new restaurants, three of them in the city’s downtown.

Dukes Northwoods opened March 2 at 7 E. Main St. in downtown St. Charles, next to The Graceful Ordinary restaurant, which opened its doors in November 2021 in the former BMO Harris Bank building. Steve Mayer, the owner of Flagship on the Fox sports bar in downtown St. Charles, opened Dukes Northwoods.

One of Mayer’s partners in Flagship on the Fox is Jarrett Payton, a sports anchor for WGN-TV and the son of the late Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. Jarrett Payton, who lives in Campton Hills, also is a partner in the Dukes Northwoods venture.

In addition to the opening of Dukes Northwoods, Pho Ly, a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant, recently opened at 305 W. Main St. in downtown St. Charles. The space had formerly housed Puebla Modern Mexican restaurant and before that The Finery and Blacksmith Bar restaurant.

In January, Whiskey Bend opened in the space that formerly housed Pub 222 at 222 W. Main St. in downtown St. Charles. Just east of the downtown, Fry N’ Wings recently opened at 610 E. Main St. in the space that had housed DRM Cafe and Deli, which was known for its authentic Polish and German food.

The recent explosion of business activity – especially in downtown St. Charles – pleases St. Charles Economic Development Director Derek Conley.

“I think downtown St. Charles has become an enjoyable environment for people to gather,” he said. “We already have a lot of great, vibrant businesses and, in my opinion, I think success builds on itself. I kind of attribute these new businesses coming here because they see opportunities. I think they can be successful here and they want to be part of the community.”

He also said the restaurants bring a new taste to the city’s restaurant scene.

“It’s great to have variety here in downtown St. Charles and now we’ve got a Vietnamese restaurant,” Conley said. “That’s fantastic to have that diversity.”

In addition to those new restaurants opening, Beef Shack is expected to open in the spring, Conley said. The restaurant is taking over the former TitleMax building at 2015 W. Main St., west of the downtown.

The new restaurant is only two doors down from its original Beef Shack location, which closed in February 2020. That restaurant, which opened in 2011, was the first Beef Shack in the franchise chain.

In addition to a surge of new restaurants, new entertainment venues have opened in the downtown. Hunt House Creative Arts Center, located at 113 E. Main St., opened in January. Hunt House is a music and arts school/performance space that offers private and group lessons for children, teens and adults.

Moonlight Theatre, located in the historic former Idle Hour Theatre at 7 S. Second Ave., opened its doors Feb. 25. The venue plans to offer theatrical productions, music and comedy acts at an affordable price.

Businesses like that also bring more people to the downtown, Conley said.

“It’s going to be a constant flow of people coming into the downtown, which is awesome,” he said.