Rolling Out

Batter & Berries restaurant owner talks French toast


Photo credit: Melanie L. Brown for Steed Media Service

What is your name and some of the history of Batter & Berries restaurant?

I’m Craig Richardson, I’m one one of the owners of Batter & Berries, it’s me, my wife Tanya Reeves-Richardson and chef Derek Rylon. We started this thing about four years ago. We wanted to do things differently. My wife was kind of the originator and everyone just kind of jumped on board and said “Let’s do it.”

Who developed the recipes?

Chef Rylon is responsible for coming up with the recipes.

Why this location in Lincoln Park?

This location found us as much as we’ve found it. We were looking for a spot. We had some criteria. We were looking for a space that already been a restaurant before, save some money on build out. We were looking for a place that had good parking and we were also looking for a space about this size. We didn’t want to start off too big, didn’t want to start off too small, about that medium size.

What year did you open?

The year was 2012 in May, actually it was Memorial Day weekend 2012.

What is your most popular dish that a lot of customers ask for? 

French toast because we have four different flavors. We serve them on The Flight, we also do a different flavor every week.  We’ve got about 123 different flavors.

Name some of the flavors.

For example this week is Red Velvet. During Valentine’s week it was Strawberry Chocolate Champagne. During Christmas season we did flavors like Bailey’s eggnog.

How is business going?

Business has been good and you know we’ve been blessed to have good word of mouth through social media and different things to help spread the word for us.

What are some of your main ways of marketing?

Our main way of marketing is through social media but we’ve also had some good TV exposure. TV exposure was not planned by us that was the networks and their looking for places to feature and we’ve been fortunate enough.

What TV programs have you been on?

“Check Please,” “Chicago’s Best,” Fox News, and “You & Me in the Morning.” We’ve also had some freelancers who’ve come in to do some video shoots for their Web programming.

Are you the main spokesperson for the restaurant?

Me and chef Rylon. It just depends, we usually have him out front because people like to hear from the chef.  When it comes to things concerning the business end, I’m usually the spokesperson on that.

What are you looking forward to for the future?

Right now, we’re just growing and learning a lot. We’re still defining the model and making sure we know what we’re doing here first before we start jumping around to new locations.

Who are some of the customers you had that just really stood out?

A lot of customers really stand out. You know what was cool was when we were on “Chicago’s Best,” Brittney Payton came here and did her piece. The next week she came back and brought her mom and fiancé just to eat, so that was like a big thumbs up of approval. We had folks in like Terrence Howard, Chicago Bulls, different guys like Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Then we had a lot of different professional athletes and actors like Boo Boo Kitty, Grace Gealey from “Empire” and Chante’ Moore. Ricky Dillard comes in every time he’s in town. Hezekiah Walker and a lot of band members come in. We get a lot of artist that come in especially during the week. The artist tend to not work during the week so we get a lot of artist and clergy.

Why does your restaurant close so early?

You know because we are breakfast and lunch. The demand kinds of tickers off in the afternoon.

Have you tried staying open later before?

If we stay open later, we really have to add dinner and servers.

What do you do for the community?

We’ve had a couple of chefs come in and work for intern hours. I give gift certificates or coupons for community organizations that have silent auctions or raffles. I’ve spoken to some youth groups, got some more actually scheduled to speak to in the spring.

When are the busiest days and the busiest times?

The busiest days are Saturdays and Sundays and any time either day is the closer you get to noon, on either side of noon.  If you get here at 8 a.m. you can walk right in.  We’re open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.

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