In the fall of 2020, Butter and Brown Bistro opened in the heart of the Lake and Austin business district in Oak Park. Now the breakfast-focused restaurant is taking a bold step into Forest Park. Owners Tiffany and Lanell Brown have closed the Oak Park location and plan to reopen at Taco Tu’s former home, 7321W. Madison St., in just a few weeks.
The restaurant will continue to serve its menu of Southern house dishes, including shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles and their popular salmon cakes between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. They also plan to use the space bar offering fruity cocktails as well as wine and beer.
The Browns are longtime fans of the Madison Street business district and regular customers of the shops and restaurants located on Forest Park Passage. They envision Butter and Brown fitting in nicely with the array of high street businesses. They aim to be a family run establishment that appeals to those looking for a hearty breakfast, lunch or early dinner.
“We loved our humble beginnings,” said Tiffany Brown, co-owner of Butter and Brown Bistro. “We loved the community and the proximity to public transportation, but the space was just too small.”
When their lease was renewed, the family began to explore possibilities for expansion. They briefly considered opening a second location, but when the family saw the Madison Street space, they seized the opportunity to more than quadruple their seating and expand the size of their kitchen. The new space increases their seating capacity from 50 to over 300 and significantly increases their kitchen storage capacity.
The restaurant awaits final inspections and Chef Terry Brown (no relation) looks forward to cooking in the generously sized kitchen. In the meantime, the owners are focusing on updating the “dark and gloomy” room. Light now floods the dining room where the owners have capitalized on the brightness by painting the walls a cheerful gold hue and upgrading the light fixtures throughout the establishment. In the future, the Browns hope to install a fireplace in the back of the restaurant to give the place a warm glow on cold days. Additionally, Butter and Brown will have a “robot waitress” they’ve dubbed “Judy” to support their hardworking human staff.
The Browns were delighted with the welcome Forest Park gave to the Butter and Brown Bistro. They look forward to joining the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and participating in all the local festivities associated with being part of the Madison Street business community.
The Browns have enjoyed the support of Chicago and Oak Park residents at their old location and hope their regular customers will come to Forest Park for the meals they have come to enjoy. Tiffany Brown is most concerned about elderly patrons who dine in Oak Park as often as three times a day and who may not be able to afford to travel to their new home on Madison Street.
“We’re sad to leave them, but we’re looking for a way to bring our hardcore customers here,” Brown said. “They have become like family to us, and we want them to experience the next level of Butter and Brown.”
The owners are clear that leaving their first location was an emotional decision, but credit the experience for teaching them so much about the do’s and don’ts of restaurant ownership. Tiffany Brown is also clear that the Oak Park location was tinged with personal sadness for her. In addition to opening during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, her mother, who was a champion of their efforts to start the business, died just weeks before they opened. His son died soon after, adding another dark association with the opening of Butter and Brown. Time helped her heal, but it was impossible to separate those losses from their first home restaurant. She’s clear her family views the move to Forest Park as a ‘fresh start’ and she enters this new era of Butter and Brown with an open heart and a level head.
“It’s just a dream space,” said Tiffany Brown, “Having so much spooky space on this strip is a blessing. This street is a multicultural family melting pot and it feels like home.