Can lightning strike twice? The owners of the new Grand Tavern at 3733 Grand Blvd. in Brookfield sure hope so.
Mike and John DiFatta have returned to the Brookfield bar scene after a decade-long hiatus. In 2002, they sold their popular Brookfield Avenue spot Remember When, which became Johnny B’s and later Traxx Side.
After selling the bar, Mike DiFatta got into the home improvement business, but his heart has always been in the hospitality industry, where he’s worked since 1987.
“We’ve been saying we wanted to get back in,” said Mike DiFatta in an interview at the ample wood bar inside Grand Tavern recently. “We’ve been looking for a place solidly for the past year at different locations. This place has a nice old look with a beautiful bar.”
The two brothers opened Remember When in 1995 and soon drew a loyal clientele, the kind they’d like to attract again at Grand Tavern, which is a sports bar and restaurant, with a menu that includes a fairly wide selection of pub food, including appetizers, sandwiches and specialty burgers.
Their former establishment didn’t have a kitchen, but the DiFattas are taking advantage of the large kitchen area at 3733 Grand Boulevard, which has been home to six other businesses, including full-service restaurants since 2003.
Since 2009, the building has been home to a couple of rowdier establishments, the last being The Local Bar and Grill, which morphed into a dance club with a DJ booth, disco lights and midnight blue walls and ceiling.
DiFatta wants to change that image.
“This is going to be more like a sports bar, a local gathering place that’s safe, open and friendly,” said DiFatta.
“People are just looking for a comfortable, safe place to go to, a place you can bring your family.”
While it’s billed as a sports bar, Grand Tavern is a fully functioning restaurant with seating for 60 to 70, and DiFatta expects to draw families as well as sports devotees. The kitchen will be open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., said DiFatta, and kids are welcome as long as they’re with their parents.
On Friday nights there will be a fish fry – something the Di Fattas have brought with them from their days at Remember When. And all day on Saturdays the restaurant will give customers a chance to win a T-shirt and be enshrined on a wall of fame if they complete the “Grand Daddy Challenge.”
Essentially, it’s a “Man vs. Food”-style eating challenge where contestants must finish a burger that includes four, half-pound beef patties topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, along with a one-pound side of fries.
“It’s doable,” said DiFatta.
DiFatta said his goal is to open Grand Tavern in time for the Chicago Bears season opener on Sept. 9.
Village President Michael Garvey issued Grand Tavern its liquor license last week after the village board voted unanimously to create the license on Aug. 27.