Park District wants options for improving eatery

<p>From left, brothers Tom and Tim Belgio of Belgio's Catering take a break outside of one of their venues The <a id=Naperville Park District Riverwalk Eatery in 2007.  |  Robyn Sheldon/For Sun-Times Media

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From left, brothers Tom and Tim Belgio of Belgio's Catering take a break outside of one of their venues The Naperville Park District Riverwalk Eatery in 2007.  |  Robyn Sheldon/For Sun-Times Media

Naperville Park District officials are moving ahead with plans to see if they can turn the Riverwalk Eatery into an even more viable facility.

Thursday night, officials approved a professional contract worth $35,200 to Creative Hospitality Associates LLC of Chicago for development of a business plan for the Riverwalk Eatery.

Park District Executive Director Ray McGury said the feeling among officials is that the facility “has not been maximized up until now” and that they are hoping the advisory firm can provide the board with some options.

“We’re going to ask for a high-end, medium and low-end plan,” McGury said. “At this point we’d just like to give the board some options and hopefully some direction. We’d like to maximize the space better, whether that means having a wine and beer garden or simple food service.”

Park Commissioner Ron Ory said that up to this point, the facility has been “just a hole in the ground” but that with development, it might provide some options for those visiting the downtown area.

“With events in town like Last Fling or even on those nights when people are waiting for their reservations at a restaurant downtown, this might be an option where people could wait around or meet others,” Ory said. “There have been a couple of other businesses that have occupied the space, but they have failed and left. I think that those who have tried to operate a business there in the past haven’t done their due diligence, and we need to do ours now. We’re looking at a three-tiered plan and we’ll evaluate the benefits.”

McGury said he expected the Hospitality Associates group to come back with plans by late spring or early summer.

No matter what, any big changes at the Riverwalk Eatery wouldn’t occur until next year at the earliest, he said.

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