Gooseberry Cafe will open in a completely remodeled space.
The vacant restaurant space on the ground floor of the U.S. Bank building on Capitol Square, formerly occupied by the Sunprint Cafe, has a new tenant working toward a spring 2015 opening.
David and Denien Sramek, who also own and operate Heritage Bakery and Cafe on Cottage Grove Road, are readying the space to open Gooseberry on the Square, a breakfast, sandwich, soup and salad spot. Renovations have just started.
"We always wanted to be on the Square," Denien Sramek says, but finding the right space was difficult. "After deliberating, we decided this was the right move for us."
The Sunprint Cafe moved to 10 W. Mifflin St. in the spring of 2013; the U.S. Bank space has been vacant since, though there had been some talk that a small food market might be interested in the space.
Sramek says that the kitchen area will remain largely as it was when Sunprint was in the space, but the rest of the dining area is being completely remodeled, with new booths and tables.
The heart of Gooseberry will be an 18-foot salad bar. An entrance directly to the restaurant from East Washington Avenue is also being constructed (formerly, the entrance was accessed only from within the bank lobby/shopping area) which will enable more flexibility with hours, says Sramek. A better access route from the loading dock to the kitchen is also in the works.
The Srameks opened their Heritage Cafe and Bakery in 2011, bringing a locally owned restaurant to the Elvehjem/Heritage Heights neighborhood and helping to maintain the vitality of the Rolling Meadows Shopping Center. The area has recently suffered the loss of Papa Bear's BBQ and the Sentry grocery store at Cottage Grove and Acewood.
The Srameks also operate the food concessions for the Dean Clinics. Both David and Denien Sramek are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Denien is the pastry chef; David has studied under Chef Michael White, the Beloit native who has created a string of successful restaurants in New York City.
The Srameks want Gooseberry to maintain a separate identity from Heritage. A sample menu (PDF) focuses on scrambles and breakfast sandwiches, as well as sandwiches in the $6-$9 range, with several pastas rounding out the dishes.
Catering, especially for downtown businesses, will also be a focus, and the rear "conference room" available for business meetings will be retained in the remodel.
Planned hours will be 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., but the Srameks are open to expanding to a full dinner in the future.