LISLE – Raymes Steak and Fish House had never taken in water before April 18, 2013.
But that day, when the village of Lisle saw 7.34 inches of torrential rain, 3.5 feet of floodwater from the East Branch of the DuPage River filled the restaurant in only 45 minutes.
By Friday night, the water was gone, but it left thousands of dollars of destruction in its wake.
Next week, Raymes will reopen for the first time since the flood.
“There just was no question that people wanted it to be here,” said owner Jerri Nolan.
The restaurant opened in 1974, and was purchased by Nolan and her husband, Gary Nolan, in 2009.
Known for its “Wisconsin supper club” atmosphere, Jerri said returning customers can expect the décor and menu they remember from the days before the flood – low ceilings, large windows and wood paneling paired with king-size cocktails and classic American cuisine.
“I'm trying really hard to make it the same,” she said.
However, there is one big difference – a new building.
Prior to the April 2013 storm, Raymes was located in a much smaller space that sat low on the restaurant's property at Route 53 and Burlington Avenue, within the floodplain.
The new structure is 5,000 square feet – more than twice the size of the original. It will seat double the customers and is placed higher on the lot to protect it from flooding.
Jerri said she and Gary anticipated salvaging the old building, but, with about 60 percent of it damaged, decided to rebuild in summer 2013.
They broke ground on the restaurant a year ago and have received more than $200,000 in flood insurance coverage. Nevertheless, Jerri estimates Raymes has lost $4.5 million during the rebuilding process.
She's still waiting on last-minute permits, installations and deliveries, but soon the same familiar faces from the pre-flood days will be back, serving steak, fish, ribs and more – with the help of 12 new servers and staff hired to accommodate the restaurant's more than 100 seats.
“It brings a quality restaurant experience to the community,” said Lisle Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Althoff.
Raymes is a Lisle tradition, he said, and anticipation is building among residents regarding the opening.
“This restaurant is a destination,” Jerri said.