John Starks | Staff Photographer
George Arsoniadis, a local restaurateur, is in talks to buy and turn the former Pour House and the former Puzzle Dust Cafe into a sit-down restaurant and bar called Bootleggers Speakeasy on River Road in downtown East Dundee. He is seeking financial assistance from the village for the purchase and renovation of both properties.
EAST DUNDEE -- An experienced restaurateur is looking to plant his flag in East Dundee by opening a combination speak-easy and eatery in the downtown.
George Arsoniadis, of Elgin, is in the process of purchasing 100 and 102 N. River Street, and if the transaction goes through, he would open Bootleggers Speakeasy, a throwback to the Prohibition era complete with period glassware and furniture. It would specialize in American cuisine that caters to people of all ages and includes steaks, ribs, burgers, seafood and chicken. Dishes would be created from organic and healthy food with "taste and spice."
The speak-easy portion would go inside the former Pour House, while the restaurant portion would go into the former Puzzle Dust Cafe.
Other than the Anvil Club, a deli and assorted pubs, there aren't many places for East Dundee residents to sit down and enjoy a meal, Arsoniadis said. This is a void he hopes to fill.
"I've always been interested in the Fox Valley area, and this is an opportunity that presented itself ... like someone making me an offer I can't refuse," Arsoniadis said, adding that he has owned and managed local restaurants for 30 years. "It's in the right spot, it's the right concept and the village is very, very accommodating to our needs, and they're very willing to help us make the facility work (and) bring the concept to fruition, if you will."
Arsoniadis is seeking financial assistance from the village. He's hoping officials give him money from a tax increment finance district to buy and rehab both buildings. He estimates the purchase will cost roughly $400,000 and that the subsequent renovations would likely cost him another $400,000.
Village President Lael Miller said he doesn't have a problem helping Arsoniadis. Monday, the board is scheduled to take a vote on whether to use TIF funds to help pay for the venture.
"This fulfills a couple of our needs," Miller said of the project. "First of all, it occupies two vacant buildings, it provides an experienced restaurateur in town to open those and it's going to provide 50 jobs and be a focal point of the downtown. I have to see the numbers, but I have no problem with spending money to fix up old buildings and turning them into something that's more useful."
If all goes as planned, Arsoniadis would open Bootleggers Speakeasy in the spring.