Toast & Roast and ‘high-end’ piano bar both planned for downtown McHenry

Two new concepts go to City Council seeking liquor licenses Tuesday

Toast & Roast, 1250-1252 N. Green St., McHenry, on Jan. 2, 2024, is seeking a liquor license from the city of McHenry. The new restaurant is set to open in early March with 40 mimosas and liquor-infused coffee on the menu.

Lauren Alexander admits that she and her business partners have been very quiet about what their plans are for Toast & Roast in McHenry.

“We like the element of surprise,” Alexander said, adding that “every five seconds, someone asks when it is going to open.”

The new restaurant concept, at 1250-1252 N. Green St., now is set to open in early March, Alexander said.

What they plan is a “Starbucks meets Chipotle meets a Baskin Robbins” at the location, which was the Hidden Pearl Cafe until summer 2022.

Toast & Roast, along with the Fox on the Run piano bar, set for 3316 Pearl St., both appear on the McHenry City Council agenda Tuesday seeking liquor licenses. The meeting was moved back a day from its regular Monday slot because of the Presidents’ Day holiday.

According to city documents, owner Jessica Cannon said Fox on the Run “would be McHenry’s first exclusive piano bar ... to offer a high-end, energetic atmosphere with live piano music,” serving cocktails, mocktails, craft beer and wine.

Toast & Roast plans to offer “infused coffee drinks, espresso drinks ... and 30 flavors of mimosas,” Alexander said, adding that the food menu’s base is “buildable toast – bread you can build on with a lot of different options.”

The location will offer breakfast, sandwiches, salads, acai bowls, smoothies and ice cream sundaes throughout the day.

“We are going to have very long hours,” Alexander said.

It’s a new concept, she said, dreamt up by one of her business partners, and it’s one McHenry city leaders and staff have thrown support behind.

It was one of eight McHenry businesses to receive facade grants from the city in the last budget cycle, with $30,000 going to the location.

“The facade grant was a game-changer for us. It was something that would have [meant] putting on the deck or not putting on the deck,” Alexander said, referring to the outdoor seating area to the south of the restaurant. “It was amazing of them. They are the most supportive, active community we have been a part of.”

When she and her business partners were looking for a location, McHenry was not originally on their map, Alexander said.

“There are a lot of cool things [in McHenry], and we want to be a part of that,” she said. “There is an incredible synergy here. It is like gold over there. This whole town is on fire.”

The building at 1250-1252 N. Green St , McHenry, shown here in September 2023, is one of eight properties that have taken advantage of the City of McHenry’s revamped facade grant program to improve the outside of their buildings.

Correction: The original story misidentified the restaurant name.