Forest Park foodies can now get a taste of city dining without trekking into Chicago.
Three veterans of the city’s food scene — Jeff Wilson, Mike Spiewak and Sieger Bayer — are bringing their culinary expertise west to The Heritage, Madison Street’s newest restaurant, which opened its doors at the beginning of September. The trio has worked together before and has experience at a handful of Chicago locales, including the Michelin-rated Longman & Eagle, as well as spots in the West Loop and Bucktown. The latest addition to Forest Park’s robust roster of restaurants is the brainchild of an Oak Park couple, Jacob and Mischa DeHart who bought the space, tucked between Moss Modern Flowers and The Junction Diner, in 2015.
“We have a lot of city experience, so we are bringing that out here. We also want to be a place for Forest Park,” Jeff Wilson, the general manager, said. “We’re definitely a neighborhood spot.”
With a slim, yet sophisticated menu, along with marble countertops, exposed brick, and a tin ceiling, Chicago’s culinary influence on the The Heritage is clear. Mischa, a real estate broker, designed the 54-seat space but also tapped the practical knowledge of co-chefs Sieger and Spiewak, with Wilson, who oversees the dining room.
“She had the vision,” Wilson said. “She wanted some functionality ideas from us because we’ve been in restaurants for so long.”
“We made it work; she made it beautiful.” Spiewak added.
For now, the menu, which Wilson called “seasonal American fare,” features small plates for sharing, large entrees and a handful of desserts. The pair said offerings will change based on the time of year and customer feedback.
“It’s approachable food,” Spiewak said. “When your order tuna with corn and peppers, you’re getting tuna with corn and peppers.”
The eight-seat bar features seasonal drinks, too, with a rotating list of cocktails, wines and beers.
Bayer said the team envisioned patrons dining at The Heritage for any occasion — date nights, special anniversaries, casual get-togethers or after-work drinks — and the menu and physical space reflect that desire. Kids are welcome, too.
“We’ve got half a dozen high chairs and half a dozen booster seats,” Wilson said.
While admitting The Heritage joins an already strong culinary scene up and down Madison Street, Bayer shied away from viewing other establishments as competitors. Sieger and Spiewak both referred to the camaraderie of Madison Street, adding that restaurants often share ingredients and supplies as needed. In fact, the pair recently rushed over to nearby Francesca’s Fiore for coffee filters and printer paper. A few days later, Spiewak and Sieger returned the favor, sharing olives when Francesca’s ran out.
“We’re all friends,” Sieger said. “We’re not trying to stab anyone in the back.”
Wilson added a concentrated restaurant scene helps everyone.
“The more you have on the block, the more people are going to come down here. It helps everyone out.”
Co-owner DeHart, who first spotted the space working at her real estate day-job, did admit that opening the restaurant is a risk. But the Lake Zurich native remains optimistic.
“I couldn’t pass up the investment opportunity. It all kinda just fell into place.”
An LLC registered in her husband’s name reportedly paid $432,500 for the space in March 2015.
Spiewak said the first few weeks of business were not too busy, which allowed the staff to interact with guests, get a feel for each other and establish a routine.
“They’re doing an incredible job,” Mischa said of the staff. “I’ve been super-impressed.”
“It’s been a nice, gradual build,” Spiewak added. “Every night has been getting better and better and better. We want to keep that going.”
The Heritage is located at 7403 Madison St. For more, call 708-435-4937 or email email@example.com.