Bev’s pop-up restaurant opens in Naperville, ahead of major renovation at Jimmy’s Grill site


Visitors to downtown Naperville did double takes at the northwest corner of Washington Street and Chicago Avenue.

The view from Bev’s restaurant replaced Jimmy’s Grill, which closed in October after decades of serving burgers and treating customers to its bustling patio atmosphere.

Bev’s, named for the site’s longtime owner at 245 S. Washington St., recently opened as the latest creation from Will Cullen and the Empire Restaurant Group, which operates three other restaurants in Naperville. . It’s a pop-up restaurant that will hold the corner until a renovation paves the way for a restaurant named Cali’s.

Cali is still over a year down the road. But Cullen didn’t want the site to sit idle while architectural drawings are finalized, permits are gathered and other elements of the renovation are nailed down.

“We always watched Jimmy’s,” Cullen said. “If there was a change in ownership, we wanted to be in the conversation to do something about it. We have the best location in town.”

Cullen and his team plan to renovate the area. They extend the first floor of the building to Washington Street, spanning the patio with an indoor dining area. However, an open-air feel will remain in the summer thanks to the accordion-style exterior doors facing Washington.

On the second floor above the new dining hall, there will be rooftop seating and a bar. While Bev’s is around 4,000 square feet, Cali’s will be 9,000 square feet.

Cullen describes Bev’s as a casual fine dining restaurant with a modern vibe. It offers everything from mussels and gnocchi to 16-ounce dry-aged steak. Depending on the reception, some items may end up in Cali’s menu.

“Instead of being down during this time, we thought it would be more beneficial to do something there until we were ready to go with Cali,” Cullen said. “We wanted to revive it a bit in time.”

Cali’s will have an open kitchen concept with a wood-fired grill serving steaks, seafood and an oyster dish that Cullen fell in love with during a recent trip to California.

Due to the huge amount of renovations needed to create Cali’s, Bev’s will close at some point. Construction will take approximately six to nine months. Cullen said the timeline may change, but the site will be permanently shut down for an extended period.

“We’re going to play by ear,” Cullen said. “If (Bev’s) starts to do well, there won’t be a huge rush to shut it down.”


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