Brunch has been around a long time — an 1895 article in Hunter’s Weekly first suggested the idea to replace heavy post-church fare on late Sunday mornings. And, probably since about 1896, operators have both loved brunch (high margins, simple prep) and hated it (early hours, staffing issues and dawdling diners.)
Still, it’s impossible not to respect a daypart in which customers often have the time and inclination to try heartier, more creative offerings. So pour on the syrup, order another side of bacon and get ready for a conversation with someone whose brunch business continues to grow, right in the heart of one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods.
Farmers’ breakfast for the non-farming crowd
Grange Hall Burger Bar has a farm-to-table focus and a reputation for beyond-hearty farmers’ breakfasts (even though few of the West Loop hipsters in attendance look as if they’ll be baling hay or running a thresher when they’re done with their meal). “We began offering brunch about a year after we opened in 2011, and it’s expanded threefold since then,” says owner Angela Lee. She credits the restaurant’s solid reputation of providing wholesome, memorable breakfasts: “We do not skimp on anything.”
Her customers don’t shy away from indulgent brunch fare, as indicated by the popularity of GHBB favorites like Bacon Chocolate Cherry Pancakes, Sage Country Fried Chicken and Gravy, and Grass-Fed Corned Beef & Hash. “People are more willing to indulge at brunch simply because it’s their first stop of the day, plus they’re relaxed and don’t have a time crunch,” Lee says. “We see them ordering both savory and sweets alike and really pampering themselves with whatever they want in that moment.” What does she recommend for a Windy City Sunday splurge? “Our house-made soda biscuits and Michigan farmed Jake’s country sausage gravy are a must,” she insists. “Please expect a mind blowing experience.”
When asked for advice to those considering adding brunch service, she suggests: “In essence, be real. Choose a comfortable setting and offer quality ingredients full of flavor and freshness. Don’t skimp on quality in hopes of saving a buck. If you wow your guests, your brand has roots and customers can trust you, they’ll be loyal.”