Dan Marguerite grew up in Wilmette in a family that was passionate about cooking out. One of his father’s best friends was George Stephen, inventor of the iconic Weber kettle grill, so it only makes sense that Marguerite—looking for a new venture after a long career trading stocks—opened the Backyard Barbeque Store in his hometown. Thirteen years later, sales of high-end grills, patio accessories and catered events were sizzling, so Marguerite decided to expand. In January, the Backyard Barbecue Store moved to a newly renovated location at the corner of Green Bay Road and Wilmette Avenue.
The new digs on the southwest corner of the intersection, which transformed the garish blue former carwash into the attractive, multifunctional indoor-outdoor space, are a hit with both Marguerite and his customers. “I just love how much room we have, and I’m really happy with everybody’s reaction to it,” he says. “They love the design, and they ask questions about the architect.”
Marguerite worked with architect Chuck Cook and landscape architect Jim O’Brien—both Wilmette locals—to design an outdoor entertainer’s paradise. They completely gutted the old car wash and created a light-filled space with intricate stonework, reclaimed wood and clever lighting that feels as laid-back and authentic as your own backyard. The space is twice that of Marguerite’s original store, with plenty of room to display merchandise—the Big Green Egg section is impressive—and showcase built-in grill stations that are all the rage. “There’s a big trend toward charcoal grilling now,” says Marguerite. “A lot of people are doing outdoor kitchens too. They want an extension of their kitchen in summertime where they can entertain and cook outside.”
The new building allows Marguerite to expand his popular cooking demos, beer dinners, wine tastings and private parties. If that isn’t enough fun, he plans to add an on-site brewery to the new location. Cheers! 535 Green Bay Road, Wilmette -Marjie Killeen