When you sit down to eat at Nick’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, a waiter won’t place a basket of bread on the table. Instead, you’ll be munching on kale chips before your meal.

It’s part of a high quality, healthier food concept that the owners of Wilmette’s newest restaurant wanted to give their community.

“We had a vision to serve fresh, tasteful cuisine using a lot of local sources,” said Tim Lenon, one of the owners of Nick’s, who also owns Wilmette’s Fuel. “We’re serving bar food done better. You can get a fantastic hamburger and fries, but you can also step it up a notch and have a fresh piece of fish, a steak or a salad.”

Nick’s got started by Jen Marino, a Wilmette mom with a background in public relations, who got to know Lenon when she and her family would eat at Fuel.

The two began talking about the possibility of opening a restaurant together.

“Jen and I are of the same wave length in that the food in society needs to improve,” said Lenon, who brought his chef from Fuel, Derek Dwyer to head up the kitchen at Nick’s. “When you go out to eat, you can still eat healthy and it can still taste really great.”

Marino said she and Lenon began looking for investors, and had conversations with many people in the Wilmette community, ending up with nine Wilmette families who wanted to be a part of Nick’s.

“We never had to pitch this to anyone,” said Marino, who has lived in Wilmette with her husband, Pete and their three children for nine years. “In fact people started coming to us and saying, ‘We heard you guys were starting a restaurant and we want to be a part of it.’”

“This is about local people taking a local interest,” said Lenon. “They care about what’s happening in Wilmette.”

Nick’s, which is located in the spot where C.J. Arthur’s used to be was completely gutted and remodeled, the project spearheaded by Marino and Lenon’s wife, Genny.

Marino refers to the space as “a fixture in Wilmette,” and said they chose it because of it’s history, and because it is right in the heart of downtown Wilmette.

“Every North Shore town has an identity and I feel like Nick’s is going to help develop ours,” said Lenon, who was a trader before getting into the restaurant business. “My passion for this project is making Wilmette a better, more fun place, so that people in Wilmette stay in Wilmette when they dine.”

Lenon refers to Nick’s as a “Gastropub,” which according to Wikipedia means “a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food.

Nick’s serves a variety of appetizers, tacos, salads, sandwiches, entrees, side dishes and desserts. There is also an extensive kids menu.

The owners’ favorites include taco flights, vegetarian lasagna, kale Caesar salad, and the salmon BLT. The menu also has many gluten free options.

Nick’s is named after Marino’s father-in-law, who she describes as “the type of guy you’d just love to sit and have a beer with.”

“We want people to feel welcome, and comfortable, and feel like they can pull up a chair and relax. My father-in-law is the type of guy who makes you feel welcome,” Marino said. “We felt like this type of personality was what we wanted our restaurant to be like. Everyone knows a Nick.”

Original article at: Here