A "fast, casual" pizza joint is opening in downtown Wheaton.
Bricks Wood Fired Pizza & Café, second to the original store in Lombard, will open in the former Squire Tailor space at 103 Front Street in September.
Known for its wood fired brick oven pizzas ($9-$11), Bricks also serves sandwiches baked in the wood fired oven, including a signature Chicken Pesto ($7), soups, salads, some appetizers and desserts.
Owner Bill Wilson opened Bricks in 2005 after visiting in San Diego while on a family vacation.
"We came home and I kept thinking about it," Wilson said. "I couldn't get it out of my head, I swear to you."
"It's a unique concept—a healthier pie, (and) you can get more creative. We've got artichokes, roasted red peppers, pine nuts—you know, you name it—and you build these really different pizzas."
He did some research on the Neapolitan pies he loved in California and found they date back 2,500 to 3,000 years. He thought, "one of these would work in Chicago.
"You can find them on the west coast and the east coast, but there's nothing in the Midwest," Wilson said.
He had the convenience of having a restaurant architect in the family—his son—who helped turn his dream of a café centered around the brick oven into reality with Bricks in Lombard.
When Bricks opened, there were about five other wood fired oven concepts in the Chicago area, he said.
But the concept has "really taken off," Wilson said. "It's been a pleasant—knock on butcher block—surprise."
Bricks got a break one January afternoon when Janet Davies and her news crew from 190 North Chicago wandered into the restaurant after shooting in the area. After tasting the signature Chicken Pesto sandwich and deciding it was "the best damn sandwich" she'd ever had, Davies put together a segment on Bricks.
The restaurant was later featured in Chicago Magazine as a place that serves a "thin, light crust, slightly chewy and crisp around the edges," with "impeccably fresh" toppings.
Wilson said he's now ready to expand into vibrant downtown areas.
"Wheaton always has been an interest for us only because of what goes on down there—there's a lot of activity. ... I think there's a need for it down there."
He said he also has plans to open a store in Naperville this year.
The Wheaton store, offering "fast, casual dining," will differ slightly from the Lombard location, when Wilson adds gelato and craft beer on draft to the menu.
"The town is working terrifically with us—they really want us to get in there and get going," he said. "... I think this is going to be a great, great spot for us."