The shrimp and grits are getting warmer.
The Maple Tree Inn will officially open Friday, Feb. 7, in Homewood. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
“Homewood has been very excited for the Maple Tree Inn to open its doors so we have a taste of the Big Easy in our backyard,” Mayor Richard Hofeld said. “The world-class food of Maple Tree Inn fits perfectly into our community and complements the already wonderful restaurants and shops in the Homewood area.”
The restaurant’s original location on Olde Western Avenue in Blue Island was destroyed in a fire in August of 2018. The Wennbergs announced the Maple Tree would be moving to Homewood about a year later.
The well-known Cajun and Creole style restaurant had a series of soft openings over the last few weeks at 18849 Dixie Highway, the former location of the The Cottage on Dixie restaurant.
“Dress rehearsal began with private gatherings of community leaders and restaurant industry people who have supported this remarkable and swift transition,” owner Erich Wennberg said in a press release. “Our long-term vision for success requires dedication and commitment, and we asked our guests to finish their dining experience with a questionnaire that required honesty and acute observations regarding our service.”
The restaurant has seating capacity for more than 125 inside and more than 60 guests on the patio, weather permitting. There are more than 60 private parking spaces.
“In addition to nearly a 100-percent staff retention, we also have brought on dozens of local hires and we need to welcome and integrate those new young people into the Maple Tree culture,” owner Katie Wennberg said. “So far, the response has been exactly what we are looking for.”
“It’s just been a godsend for us to come to Homewood,” Erich Wennberg said.
The couple recently purchased a home near the Maple Tree Inn, according to the release.
“The challenge of maintaining a loyal following and sustaining award-winning standards in legendary New Orleans cuisine has taken commitment and sacrifice from a unique core group of professionals,” Katie Wennberg said. “Now is the most exciting time in the history of the Maple Tree Inn. Now, we have the honor of going from rebuild to rebirth.”
The village wooed the Maple Tree Inn with an incentive package that included $538,000 in TIF funds to help with a $1.9 million renovation to the property. That money will be paid out incrementally through 2024.
A Class 8 Cook County incentive was also approved, lowering property taxes. Homewood’s projected sales tax revenue from Maple Tree Inn over the ten-year life of the Class 8 is estimated at $821,229.