New Joliet restaurants open/set to open, obtain liquor licenses

Karen Sorensen | 8/4/2015, 12:56 p.m.
Smoky's BBQ on Jefferson has a new owner, The Roost on Ruby is now open and El Primo on Hickory ...
Smoky's BBQ on Jefferson Street, which closed earlier this year, has a new owner who is seeking a liquor license from the city of Joliet.

Restaurant changes are on the horizon for Joliet, with Smoky's BBQ set to reopen, The Roost already open and a new Mexican place seeking a liquor license.

In addition to that, a new Arby's will be part of the new Pilot Travel Center being built at Chicago Street/Route 53 and Laraway Road.

The Joliet City Council voted Tuesday to amend the special-use permit for the travel center at Tuesday night's meeting to allow a drive-through window for the new fast-food restaurant. When built, it will be the second Arby's in Joliet.

Also approved at Tuesday night's meeting were liquor licenses for El Primo Mexican restaurant at 751 E. Hickory St. and Smoky's at 2314 W. Jefferson St.

The latter will replace a barbecue restaurant that had the same name and closed earlier this year. The new owner is Ann Soland, of Joliet, according to her license application.

In addition to offering beer and wine at the restaurant, the license also allows Soland to sell package goods. She estimates about 30 percent of the business' income will come from alcohol, the license application said.

The license will be issued once Soland completes renovations to the restaurant to bring it up to the city's building code. No opening date has been set, but the hours of operation are expected to be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the application said.

El Primo opened on Hickory Street a year ago, and is now seeking a liquor license from the city.

While the Cunningham Neighborhood Council endorsed the request, with council spokesman John Cunningham speaking in support at Monday night's pre-council meeting, 16 residents signed a petition in opposition. Their representative, Richard Serdar, told the council that Hickory Street does not need more businesses selling liquor.

The opposition complaint was not with the business itself but the fact that the area already has too many liquor licenses. Of the 190 in the Joliet, 46 are located within a one-mile radius of El Primo's location, according to the findings of the Joliet Liquor Commission.

Despite that statistic, the council followed the commission's recommendation and approved the license. It, too, will be able to sell package goods, and business owner Rosalva Valenciano anticipates alcohol sales will represent 20 percent to 40 percent of her income.

Another new restaurant will also soon be asking the city for a liquor license as well.

The Roost, which opened Tuesday at 221 Ruby St., serves a variety of fast-food items, including burgers, chicken, paninis and Chicago-style hot dogs and beefs, said Juan Sanchez, who owns the business with wife Yesenia Cepeda. Its location is on the site of the old Taste of Polonia restaurant.

The restaurant does a carry-out business as well as offering sit-down dining for up to 85 people, Sanchez said. Their specialties are the "Roost" Beef and "Roost" Pork sandwiches, and they also sell items such unique items as apple rings and sweet potato fries.

Sanchez said the business is being modeled after Roost 59 in Lake Villa, which is owned by his cousin, and will offer many similar features, including 99-cent hot dogs on Sundays.

"I've worked out here for the past few years, and getting any quality, decent food -- other than Mexican food -- you have to go closer to the mall," he said. "I think there's a need for this kind of restaurant in this area."

Contact Karen Sorensen at Karen@TheTimesWeekly.com.