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Niche Restaurant to reopen with reinvigorated menu, look

GENEVA – Niche Restaurant, after having temporarily closed March 23, will reopen Tuesday, April 1, with a brand new look, menu and chef.

Leading the fine-dining restaurant's transformation is chef Chris Ayukawa, who will return to Niche as the executive chef, along with Vince Balistreri, sommelier and general manager, according to a news release.

“We’ve always worked hard to create an exceptional dining experience, but we wanted to cultivate an atmosphere that was more accessible and comfortable,” said Balistreri in the release. “The name of the restaurant says it all. People with a passion for food but don’t want any fussiness can find their ‘niche,’ here. Chris [Ayukawa] and I get such a kick out of creating new dishes, cocktails and discovering hard-to-find wines and beers, and we love sharing it with guests who want to discover those things along with us.”

The restaurant's new renovation will resemble a modern farmhouse with an eclectic mixture of antique and modern elements, including round, distressed walnut tables; rich saddle-leather banquettes; and an expanded bar area to showcase Balistreri’s libations and mixology creations, states the release.

The bar and dining will be more open and the bar will feature more seating and a custom stone top made to resemble a river bed.

The Niche menu, created by Ayukawa, will change with the seasons. Ayukawa will make a return to the restaurant after having previously worked at Niche as a sous chef for three years. The menu will be built around fresh produce grown at Bull Run farm – Niche’s exclusively run, sustainable farm in Elburn. Ayukawa will oversee the garden which will include a variety of lettuces, radishes, red and golden beets, Tuscan kale, rainbow chard, basil, jalapenos, fennel, eggplant, bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes.

Balistreri, in addition to managing the restaurant, will elevate the drink menu. Winner of national awards for Niche’s all-American wine list from Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator magazine (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011), Balistreri will focus on whisky and beer, specifically on limited-production, local- and foreign-produced beverages, states the release.

Custom cocktails will be crafted with house-infused liqueurs, homemade bitters and syrups, bourbon-infused cherries as well as fresh-squeezed juices and produce from Bull Run.

The restaurant also will offer the Chicago-based Piperworks Brewing Comany's Elijah's Revival Wheat Wine Ale – a brew that will be available only at Niche upon its reopening, according to the release.

The fine-dining establishment also will be extending its hours Friday and Saturday nights, and will be introducing a new, late-night menu. The restaurant will be open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 5:30 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, visit, Niche's Facebook page or call 630-262-1000.

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