Three’s a Charm
Patrick O’Neil, owner of both O’Neil’s and Little Ricky’s in Winnetka, will open his newest restaurant, Trifecta Grill, in October. This will be O’Neil’s eighth restaurant in Winnetka, but the first time the North Shore restaurant mogul will have three restaurants open for business in Winnetka at once—hence the name Trifecta. And, while the restaurant business is a gamble, O’Neil and his wife Mary are willing to bet on Winnetka.
O’Neil has “the restaurant grease in his blood,” as they say in the business. He grew up in Wilmette, attended New Trier, started working in his first restaurant at 15 washing dishes, and never looked back. Working his way up through the ranks—busboy, server, short order cook—he became a restaurant owner at age 25 with the opening of The Noodle in Wilmette 22 years ago, which he later sold. He opened his flagship restaurant, O’Neil’s, 20 years ago, Little Ricky’s Rib Joint in 2002, and several others in between that he’s since sold.
“It’s a pretty exciting business,” says O’Neil. “I love creating and developing different concepts. We don’t repeat, we re-concept.”
And this seems to be one key to O’Neil’s success—variety. When Trifecta opens, O’Neil will have three very different eateries. O’Neils—dining in a sophisticated, casual bistro-type atmosphere; Little Ricky’s—loud, fun, and always busy family rib place; and Trifecta—casual, stylish, and eclectic…with a twist.
Yet, O’Neil knows that success in this business also depends on some things remaining consistent—high-quality food with the freshest ingredients, loyal and impeccable service, and “monster drinks.” Diners know that they can count on a generous cocktail at any of O’Neil’s restaurants.
“Trifecta Grill’s menu will offer smaller plates at moderate prices,” says O’Neil.
A featured item called Lamb Pops, for example, can be ordered with three “bites,” or a plate of six bites with an accompaniment. Exotic, one size, thin gourmet pizzas might feature lamb sausage or pine nut basil toppings. Ever-popular sliders will be similarly out-of-the-ordinary, and “Green Stuff” (aka salads) and “Between the Buns” sandwiches will round out the menu.
Trifecta Grill will also boast a large outdoor patio nestled in the corner enclave of the historic, ivy-covered Tudor building at 501 Chestnut, the former location of J.P. McCarthy’s.
“One reason we were attracted to this location was because of its beautiful and spacious outdoor patios that offers so much potential,” explains O’Neil. They are taking the patio down to the bare ground and transforming it into a dining area and lounge, with a bluestone patio and fire tables that will surely make this a top al fresco-dining destination.
They’ve completely stripped the restaurant’s interior, making way for new equipment, a sixteen-foot antique bar, and an eclectic decor of raw brick walls with a mix of rustic and stylish interiors and furnishings, designed by Mary.
They’ve completely stripped the restaurant’s interior, making way for new equipment, a 16-foot antique bar, and a slightly urban décor, designed by O’Neil’s wife, Mary.
“The atmosphere will be fun and funky, but comfortable and inviting with an urban feel,” explains Mary, “It will give the experience of downtown dining, but with moderate pricing and convenience to the North Shore.”
“Trifecta will be great for a girls’ night out, date night, or just for drinks and a bite,” says O’Neil. It will offer a simple elegant setting that will complement, rather than compete with, the different dining experiences available at O’Neil’s and Little Ricky’s.
The bar will offer a selection of wines, beer, innovative cocktails, signature martinis and a variety of tequilas. Trifecta Grill will be open seven days a week for dinner starting at 4 p.m. and will offer delivery.
For more information about Patrick O’Neil’s restaurants, visit oneilsinwinnetka.net.