GENEVA – St. Charles resident Nancy Luyten is bringing a taste of New Orleans to downtown Geneva.
Since 2013, Luyten has been transforming an historic house at 124 S. Second St. in downtown Geneva into a multi-level restaurant and lounge called The Patten House.
"We're going to have a New Orleans flair," Luyten said. "We have some incredibly good recipes and the house lends itself to that. It's more of a French Quarter type menu. We're not doing the heavy fried food. We're doing a lot of seafood, Poor Boy sandwiches and gumbo. Some of the recipes are from chefs we've known from New Orleans."
Those attending the 60 Men Who Cook fundraiser in April got to try the restaurant's gumbo.
"It went over well," Luyten said.
The house, located in the city's historic district, was built in 1857 by lumber man George Patten and Luyten purchased the two-story house in March 2013. Luyten said she wanted the restaurant's name to reflect the family's heritage.
"I wanted to honor the family and the tradition of the house," Luyten said.
According to historic records, the house served as a temporary Kane County courthouse between March 1890 and September 1892, when the present courthouse was completed.
The project to transform the house into a restaurant is winding down, and Luyten hopes to open the restaurant's doors later this month.
"The whole property needed a lot of care," Luyten said. "When I bought the house, there were a lot of shrubs and trees on the property and you could not even see the house."
Luyten put a new face on the house inside and out.
"We upgraded everything, including putting in new bathrooms, adding air conditioning and redoing the existing floors," she said. "It just needed to be upgraded, especially for commercial use."
At the same time, Luyten said she wanted to keep the historic feel of the house.
"We kept the integrity of everything in the house we could," she said.
Luyten turned to local businesses to help with the project, including Elburn-based Good Call Plumbing and Heating. The furniture and furnishings in the house are supplied by such local businesses as Geneva Home Works and the Strawflower Shop in Geneva.
"I wanted to stay local," she said.
Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns lauded Luyten for her efforts.
"Nancy's efforts are a quintessential example of sweat equity," Burns said. "Her hard work, patience and attention to detail has resulted in a new landmark for downtown Geneva. I'm very proud of her and look forward to celebrating the grand opening of The Patten House and all that it will provide to our community".
The Patten House will feature five different dining rooms on two levels along with a bar.
"We have a lot of spaces for parties and banquets," Luyten said. The restaurant and bar will be able to seat about 150 people at one time, she said.
The Patten House will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Appetizers will run between $8 to $12, and entrees will be priced between $17 and $25, Luyten said.
"I don't want to be the type of restaurant that we price out anybody," she said.
Luyten said she is happy with how the project has come together.
"We've done and redone the house so it would be exactly as we wanted," she said.