ST. CHARLES – A bright addition to the breakfast and lunch scene in downtown St. Charles is Brunch Cafe, which opened in late February in the heart of the new riverside First Street development.
Sunlight streams from large windows into two spacious dining rooms off First and Illinois streets. Soft yellow-greens set a cheery palette, and images of eggs and other culinary staples accent the walls. The restaurant is part of a new building with two parking decks, meaning patrons can avoid the elements and enter directly from the connected lot via a side entrance to the eatery.
Co-owner Andy Zatos is excited to be part of the revitalization project transforming the shore along the Fox River. He said new restaurants and shops are just waiting to be explored.
Brunch Cafe has five locations, with a sixth on the horizon.
"We saw a lot of people going to our Roselle store from out here," Zatos said. "They were emailing us [to] think about coming down this way."
He said signature draws are potato pancakes stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon and cheddar cheese, custard french toast, homemade sweet and savory crepes and eggs benedict varieties, adding there's a focus on attractive presentation and generous portions.
"Our chicken salad is definitely a hit," Zatos said. "We do a hormone-free chicken breast – no antibiotics. Our omelets are incredible. Our apple gouda melt probably is one of our top sellers on the lunch side."
The latter features ham sliced off the bone, gouda cheese and cranberry mayo on grilled apple bread.
Libations range from espresso to fresh-squeezed orange juice, a strawberry and orange juice combination, smoothies, mimosa varieties and bloody marys. Zatos said the beermosa concoction is a particular favorite.
People avoiding gluten will be happy to find gluten-free pancakes, bread and hamburger buns.
Near the entry, guests can view sample plates of the day's specials. Three breakfast specials are offered daily, and – during the week – the restaurant also features three lunch specials.
"I have a sweet tooth," Zatos said. "The pancakes are fluffy. I love the french toast [including] the apple bread french toast [with vanilla bean glaze and pecans]. We make banana bread from scratch."
The decadent touches extend to a red velvet cake roll prepared as french toast filled with cream cheese icing and topped with strawberries and whipped cream.
Lunch dishes include sandwiches, wraps, paninis and salads. Kid-friendly, the restaurant offers a children's menu.
Zatos said the restaurant does a lot of catering for social and business occasions, and provides deliveries to businesses.
"We do banquets after hours if people need a nice baby shower spot or [for] bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, birthday events," he said.
Zatos is proud of the attentive service and friendly staff.
"We're all hands-on," he said. "I've been in the business a long time. The recipes I've accumulated through the years. I'm having fun every day. … We want to invite everybody to come check us out."
Brunch Cafe at 172 S. First St. in St. Charles also has locations in Huntley, Fox River Grove, Roselle and McHenry. It is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. To learn more, visit brunchcafe.com or call 630-940-2814.