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A Piece of History

There aren’t many buildings in northern Illinois that were built before the Civil War and are still standing. But Lombard has a 158-year-old gem, the Lombard Hotel, which has been undergoing renovation and is now the home of a new restaurant called “Babcock’s Grove House,” named in honor of the structure’s original name when Lombard was known as Babcock’s Grove.

Owned by Steve and Dana Moreau, Lombard residents for the past 17 years, the new eating establishment serves Midwestern comfort food that is entirely fresh, locally sourced when possible and simply prepared, according to Dana. Wine and craft beer is also available.

“Steve has been in restaurants for many years and has opened them all over the world. But he has never owned his own restaurant. We decided that this was the perfect location and if we didn’t jump in and do it now, we might never do it,” she said.

Babcock’s Grove House has seating indoors for 48 and outdoors it will be able to seat another 40 people in good weather. It will be open for both lunch and dinner, offering fast casual service at lunch and expanded table service at dinner.

“People have tight lunch hours so they can’t take the time to be formally served then, but at night they want to sit and relax. So, we will offer both,” Dana said.

The historic structure is owned by Tom and Margaret Smith of Glen Ellyn. Tom grew up in Lombard and purchased the old hotel in memory of his parents. The Moreaus are leasing the first floor space from them and they received a no-interest restaurant forgivable loan from the village to cover one-third of the build-out costs.

“But bringing an 1858 building up to code, especially when it hasn’t been worked on in many years, is a challenge,” Dana, a former Lombard trustee, admitted. “We had to gut it to the studs, replace the cloth wiring, plumbing, electrical and HVAC and install an entire kitchen. The original ornate tin ceiling will remain. We thought we could save the floors, too, but discovered that at some point there had been a fire in the basement and many floor boards and joists were badly charred. So, we had to replace them, too.”

There have also been lots of surprises, including the discovery of an old saloon spittoon, beer bottles from the 1800s, old wallpaper remnants, photos and even a concrete bank vault from the years when the building was a bank.

“We are so excited about this venture. We have been involved in Lombard for a long time and we are hoping that this renovation and new restaurant will help propel downtown Lombard in the right direction. We want it to be the restaurant equivalent of the scent of lilacs, bringing a true taste of Lombard to the public. And we love that we are bringing a piece of Lombard history back to life,” she said.

Babcock’s Grove House is located at 101 W. St. Charles Road, Lombard at the intersection of Park and St. Charles, near the Metra Station. For more information, call (630) 880-7900 or visit www.facebook.com/babcocksgrovehouse/ or www.babcocksgrovehouse.com.

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