You Won’t Leave Hungry
Soup, Reubens, hot wings, turkey dinners and Ultimate Bloody Marys are just a taste of what brings customers near and far to visit Doyle’s Pub.
Growing up, Jeanne Doyle didn’t have all the advantages that typically make a person want to become a restaurant owner. One of 10 kids in her family, she and her siblings weren’t allowed in the kitchen. The traditional “learning at the elbow” cooking moment never happened. Her mother didn’t keep written recipes. There was no record of how to make the family dishes, only delicious memories. Her mother was simply too busy taking care of her family.
But inspiration comes from all directions. For Doyle, it happened while she was driving her kids back and forth to school.
“I was living in Spring Grove and I got something in my head that I wanted a restaurant,” she said. “I drove past the [old Richmond Mill] building, saw that it was vacant and said, ‘This would make a great restaurant.’”
In 1994, she bought the remains of the historic building at the corner of Main and Mill streets in Richmond. Built in 1844, it was mostly destroyed by fire in 1925. She aptly dubbed it Doyle’s Pub and has been reinventing the space ever since.
Inside, it is warm and welcoming. Stained glass, dark wood, Irish flag bunting and mirrors featuring famous Irish liquors color the interior. A homemade bar is the centerpiece of the large bar/dining area. Doyle said the 60-foot-long oak bar and cherry back bar were made in the garage of her best friend, Mike Schmidt.
Outside, Doyle’s Pub has become famous for its wraparound porch. One of the most popular summer destinations in Richmond, it spans the entire front and side of the eatery, a perfect perch for people-watching along Main Street and taking in the scenic Nippersink Creek.
In running the business, Doyle has, in several ways, become her mother, cooking every day for her big “family,” only this family comes from all points of Illinois to visit. Like her mother, she’s become known for her food and she doesn’t give out the recipes.
“This is my second home – it’s my baby,” Doyle said. “I take everything personally. My name is on the door, it’s my food. If you don’t like it, tell me, I’ll fix it.”
She takes great care in preparing her food, receiving awards and rave reviews on social media sites. “I’m dedicated,” Doyle said.
Nearly every day, you’ll find her car in the parking lot at 8 a.m. as she goes to work in her “small, but mighty kitchen,” preparing all of her soups, sauces and salad dressings from scratch.
“We’re known for our soups, especially our Manhattan clam chowder, turkey vegetable and the beef barley,” which has prime rib as one of its ingredients, she said. “They are all truly homemade.”
Reubens and Hot Wings
Doyle’s special touches don’t end at the soups. She said her Reuben sandwiches have developed a reputation for being the best for miles around.
“We sell more Reubens than anything; they are incredible,” Doyle said. “We use a round of roast beef, not brisket.” The other special touch is the sweet kraut she uses. “We cook it for six hours and add a bunch of goodies,” she said.
Bill F. from Schaumburg agrees with Doyle, recently writing a five-star review of Doyle’s on the popular user-review site Yelp.com. “My usual order is the Reuben, billed as ‘the best outside of New York City,’ and it is not an overstatement. [It’s] consistently an outstanding sandwich,” adding, “In the past, we have [had] the fresh made soups and other sandwiches. All have been good choices. Highly recommend to all.”
Doyle’s hot wings are another big draw. So popular, they won the 5th Annual Chicago WingFest.
While Doyle knows she stands out for favorite comfort foods, she said she routinely reinvents portions of the menu to stay current with changing tastes.
In a recent menu revamp, she added Mayor Daley Mussels and Jameson whiskey-infused pork chops. One addition that has been a big hit, she said, is the Saturday night roast turkey dinner – it’s a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with many of the trimmings.
Another weekend tradition is the Ultimate Bloody Mary. “We sell about 200 of them on a Sunday,” Doyle said. She developed the recipe through years of tending bar. The drink comes with what looks like a garden on a stick with cheese, pepper and loads of garnish. “I like a good Bloody Mary,” she said.
Doyle is proud of her restaurant’s quality, fair prices and return customers. “Mom always taught us that you don’t send anyone home hungry,” she said.
Before You Go
Two tips to know when you go: First, even though her restaurant is just a stone’s throw from the Wisconsin border, Doyle is an unapologetic Bears fan. “We’re the Bears fans that Packers fans hate,” she said. Come football season, Doyle said, every Sunday is a big party.
Second, the restaurant is closed on most major holidays. Doyle uses those days to spend time with her family.
What’s in a Name?
Settled by pioneers more than 150 years ago, Richmond received its name when Isaac Reed climbed to the top of the newly erected mill in 1844 – what is now Doyle’s Pub. He won the climbing contest and with it the right to name the settlement. Reed named it after his childhood hometown of Richmond, Vt.