In 2004 Steve Skrine, left the successful brokerage firm he’d built from the ground up to in favor of turning his passion for grilling into his full time job. Since opening Skrine Chops, the the restaurant’s signature 10-ounce bone in grilled pork chop, assorted steaks, Skribs, and hearty sandwiches like the Abe Lincoln, have kept meat-lovers satisfied.
“Back in the day I thought we’d make it five years, and just look what we did,” says Mary Rita Skrine proudly.
Not only has the Madison Street mainstay been in business for 13 years, they also recovered from a significant setback. In September of 2011, lightning struck an electrical line causing the popular restaurant to catch fire.The blaze caused extensive damage to the century-old property and tested the Skrines’ resilience, but true to form, the restaurant rebounded and re-opened a year later.
The redesigned space offered patrons a more rustic restaurant; the Skrines re-purposed Wisconsin barn wood to cover the walls and even designated bricks singed in the 2011 fire to build the grand fireplace in the multi-functional second-floor party room. Folks settled into the new space with ease and business at Skrine Chops returned to normal. Over the years, Skrine Chops became more than a restaurant; the versatile space morphed into a full-service community gathering place for businesses, non-profits, sports teams, and scouting groups.
Despite the fact business was strong, Steve and Mary Rita began to entertain the idea of selling restaurant in hopes of eventually downsizing their business enough to allow Steve to return to his have grill will travel catering roots. In February, Skrine Chops was officially listed for sale with The Sokol Group based in Chicago.
The Skrines are forward-thinking and suspected it would take a while to find an interested buyer; through the process they were hoping to learn how an owner would even go about selling a restaurant, as Skrine Chops was the first one they ever owned.
“We are just thinking ahead,” says Mary Rita. ” Skrine Chops is still our livelihood and we’ll dictate the timeline of any transition down the road.”
Unfortunately the Skrines are having a tough time combating public knowledge of their interest in selling their restaurant. After sharing the listing on Facebook, word started to spread about the potential sale, and it appears people started to assume Skrine Chops had already closed for good. Since the public caught wind the Skrines were exploring their real estate options, the once-bustling restaurant has experienced a steep decline in business.
“I just didn’t realize the impact this would have on our business,” says Steve. “I hope people know that just because we are open to selling, doesn’t mean our passion for Skrine Chops has diminished or faded.”
The couple wants fans of their food to know Skrine Chops is not only open for business every day, but they are still deeply passionate about their unique brand of barbecue and the communities they serve.
As Skrine Chops continues to peddle their tried-and-true menu favorites, they are also innovating in the kitchen. Steve has added new menu items including pulled pork nachos and tri-tip burritos to lure hungry folks to Skrine Chops. Additionally Skrine Chops now offers food to-go. The establishment continues to offer comedy and music nights and has plenty of room to host local events in their cozy beer garden or in the second floor party room as they have in the past.
“It’s very concerning to think the organizations we’ve partnered with in the past may think we’re closed,” says Mary Rita. “We just want everyone to know are here and ready to get to work hosting gatherings of all kinds.”
Partnership is part of the Skrine Chop brand and the Skrines have been reflecting on new uses for their generous Northwoods inspired space. The Skrines believe there are revenue channels they haven’t pushed in their Madison Avenue restaurant and hope to maximize space utilization over time. Just as the Skrines are entertaining selling the building to the right buyer, they are also wildly open to sharing the space in creative ways.
Ideally, to compensate for rising costs, the Skrines would like to have their space generating revenue 24 hours per day. They envision their well appointed second floor could be an appealing stepping stone for a yoga instructor or massage therapist. Steve would also love to see someone take over the kitchen in the morning and begin serving breakfast under their own name.
“Someone could be serving a Mexican-inspired breakfast here in the morning and we’d become Skrine Chops at night,” says Skrine optimistically. “We have assets in the space and love the idea of sharing it with other businesses.”
Folks with space sharing ideas are free to contact Mary Rita Skrine at firstname.lastname@example.org, but at the very least, pop in for a slab of Skribs. The Skrines are ready and waiting to host your next family meal, special event, or business meeting.
Remember, Steve has your dinner ready!
7230 W Madison St.
Forest Park, IL