Late in December of 2020, 150 people shared a post on Facebook. The photo of 1201 Chapline Street in downtown Wheeling featured the former Metropolitan Citi Grill space with mock up signage for Elle & Jack’s along with a caption that read “Looking forward to opening in 2021!”And thus the buzz surrounding the opening of Wheelings’ newest downtown restaurant began.
Elle & Jack’s is the latest venture for local restaurateurs Lara Graves and Phil Kendall. The duo are also the proud owners of Whisk Bakery and the former Avenue Eats. I chatted with Lara to learn more about what patrons can expect from what is sure to be a new downtown hotspot.
So, who are Elle & Jack?
Elle & Jack’s namesake comes from the owners, Lara and Phil. Elle refers to Lara, a nickname used by friends and her husband and business partner Phil Kendall. Jack is Phil’s middle name, one he shared with his father who passed a few years ago. The name conveys that the space is personal before you even set foot in the door and experience just that. Graves says the duo wanted to create a “casual atmosphere focused on great food, service and value.” While the menu is described as an “elevated dining” experience, the feeling inside is whimsical, fun and accessible. Graves and Kendall are especially excited to be a part of the revitalization of downtown Wheeling.
What’s on the Menu?
When asked to describe the style of food at Elle & Jack’s, Graves says to expect a “modern take on classic dishes.” Think, some of your favorite meals, expertly prepared without destroying your kitchen, with a twist. They focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients.The current menu offers a broiled oyster appetizer with ramp butter – utilizing a hyper-local seasonal ingredient at it’s best.
Considering Lara and Phil are also the team behind Whisk Bakery and Avenue Eats, visitors can anticipate their burgers and desserts will shine. In fact, the burger on their dinner menu opening weekend featured locally foraged morel mushrooms and a bananas foster bread pudding that you’ll definitely want to save room for!
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A History of Food on Chapline and 12th
The corner of Chapline and 12th Streets has been the home to several restaurants throughout the years. Constructed in 1859 as the Odd Fellows Hall, the original building was multi-purpose; It even hosted Linsley Military Cadets from 1863-1870. In 1950, most of the building was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt. The Odd Fellows location went on to host a number of eateries including Elby’s, Lanos and Kraus Delicatessen before becoming the Metropolitan Citi Grill.Over 50 years later, lettering from the famous Elby’s “Onion Ring Room” can still be seen above a doorway in the basement.
Odd Fellows Hall
I asked Graves about the decision to open a new concept downtown and she says it was a gut feeling. It just felt right and she likes the idea of people spending more time in downtown Wheeling for a night out with friends and family.
The dining room itself has been completely revamped with Graves’ unique ability to create a space that is one-of-a-kind, classy and a little bit weird (in a good way!) They have truly poured their attention into every detail. I mean, when’s the last time you’ve had a male friend tell you about the wallpaper in a restroom?The design is inviting and though the menu may lean towards fine dining, it’s certainly casual in it’s approach and feel.
Just Getting Started
Currently, Elle & Jack’s is serving dinner Tuesday-Thursday from 5 -10 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5-11 pm. Eventually, the restaurant plans to add lunch service and the patio will be open for outdoor dining as weather permits. The best place to stay up-to-date with information regarding Elle and Jack’s menu, reservations, and hours is by following them on Facebook.
• Melissa Rebholz was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, to a Sicilian/German family. She grew up in a household revolving around food. In 2007, a summer of volunteering for GrowNYC (New York City’s Farmer’s Markets) led her down the path to culinary school at The Natural Gourmet Institute and 10 subsequent years of farming from Long Island to Sonoma to Tennessee. Working simultaneously in kitchens to support her farming habit, Melissa migrated back to the rustbelt in October of 2019 to help Grow Ohio Valley open the Public Market as the head chef. Her hobbies include foraging, baking, dinner parties and exploring her new home of Wheeling, West Virginia.