Co-founder Denise Roy’s dream of having Surf’s Up, 6427 W. North Ave., on WGN TV’s Chicago’s Best is finally coming true. In an episode airing at 10 p.m., Dec. 8, the program is featuring the seafood eatery and its hand-battered, made-to-order fare.
“I have been wanting to be on Chicago’s Best, oh God, for years,” said Roy, who started and runs Surf’s Up, with husband Eric Roy. Maurice and Trenace Higgins are also partners in the business.
Chicago’s Best showcases the best dining sites located in the Chicago area, based on recommendations submitted by the show’s fanbase.
“The customers in Oak Park must’ve reached out because [WGN] called the store,” she said. “Oh my God, I was so excited.”
Host Elliott Bambrough came to Surf’s Up on Oct. 28 and interviewed Eric Roy. Denise taught Bambrough how to make the restaurant’s fried green tomatoes and catfish filets.
“He actually had to do all the legwork; I just kind of instructed him on how to prepare, how to mix the batter,” she said. “I had to show him how to make the seasoning.”
Bambrough also interviewed satisfied customers.
“The place was packed,” she said. “It was a really great day.”
Surf’s Up boasts a wide variety of Southern comfort food, including po’boys, crab legs, fried lobster, fresh-cut onion rings, and cheese grits. The restaurant also has fried green tomatoes, served with house-made remoulade, year-round.
“I really wanted them to do our fried green tomatoes because there’s not a lot of fried green tomatoes in this area,” Roy said. “That’s a really popular item here.”
The restaurant also serves healthy options, including vegan shrimp, which have quickly become a popular menu item, and greens prepared fresh daily.
“I just can’t see a thing on our menu that isn’t good,” she said.
The episode, Roy hopes, will encourage new customers to eat at Surf’s Up, which has received a lot of social media interest since filming the episode.
“It’s funny because I chase people around from Chicago’s Best all the time. I always go to the restaurants,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to be on so bad. It brings a lot of attention.”
Surf’s Up is located at 6427 W. North Ave., the spot that formerly housed Felony Frank’s. Like its predecessor, Surf’s Up believes in giving second chances, Roy said, and is open to hiring former felons.
The purveyor of fine fried fish also gives back to the community. Roy said the restaurant has donated to nearby churches and schools.
“We love Oak Park,” she added.
Roy plans to host a viewing party at the restaurant, with the episode projected onto a large screen, movie theater-style.
“It’s a fun show, they crack a lot of jokes. The host was really funny,” she said. “It’s going to be a good time.”