SYCAMORE – People ask general manager Shawna Johnson every day when she will open Hobnobbers Food and Spirits in Sycamore.
Her answer: The owners are aiming to open Hobnobbers by the end of this month. They need to finish installing the custom bar, repaint the walls and pass a final inspection by the DeKalb County Health Department before they can open at 2030 Baron Drive.
“I’d rather be open than doing this,” Johnson said.
Hobnobbers is located at the former Mugzzies Pizzeria & Restaurant, which closed Dec. 31 after a dispute between Mugzzies owner Nick Tsiftilis and his father, building owner Pete Tsiftilis over past due rent and other costs.
Pete Tsiftilis still owns the building, and Mike Crawford became the owner of Hobnobbers on Feb. 1. Nick Tsiftilis is no longer involved with the business.
Crawford said his sports-themed establishment will keep some of the staples Mugzzies had, such as the recipes for pizza and beer nuggets. However, they also wanted to change the look of the restaurant to make it completely fresh for customers, he said.
Hobnobbers will have 15 TVs that range in size from 42 inches to 65 inches. An iPad will control the entire sound system.
There are three arcade games and a chalkboard for children, a jukebox, ATM and a pickup window.
The menu will include appetizers such as mozzarella sticks, entrees such as burgers, sandwiches, pizza, salads and a kids’ menu. There will also be gluten-free products including muffins.
Hobnobbers plans to have a value rewards program in which customers will receive notification about menu specials, Crawford said.
Crews tore down the wall separating Mugzzies from its adjacent bar, Big Shots, to create one restaurant and bar.
Hobnobbers will have 34 employees, some of whom worked at Mugzzies or Big Shots. Johnson, the head bartender at Big Shots, has more than 15 years of experience in customer service.
“She was an obvious choice,” Crawford said.
Carpenter Jeremy Liebhaber on Tuesday was putting the finishing touches on the custom bar he has been creating since March. The bar includes power outlets for customers.
Liebhaber works on many projects in and near Chicago, but working at creating the Hobnobbers bar was especially meaningful to him.
“It’s in my hometown,” he said. “I can say I worked on it, which makes it cool.”