‘Tiki Bar Takeover’ Transforms Reserve 22 Into Tropical Destination

GLEN ELLYN, IL — Reserve 22 is embracing the spirit of spring break and warmer weather by transforming into a tiki bar. The Tiki Bar Takeover, which debuted in February, includes tropical cocktails, a thatched roof and island decor, along with a special menu of Polynesian-inspired dishes.

“We want to be able to transport people to a hidden tropical oasis in their own hometown,” Reserve 22’s Marketing Strategist Julie Rusin told Patch.

Rusin said customers have been surprised to see a palm tree when they walk into the restaurant, and then to find the bar area adorned with tropical leaves and tiki lanterns. Each of the barstools are even dressed up in a brightly colored hula skirt.

“Their faces light up when they see it,” she said.

It’s a way for residents to indulge in a little bit of spring break, even if they are unable to travel, Rusin said. Diners can further immerse themselves in the vacation vibe by taking a photo in front of a tropical backdrop.

To help whisk foodies to a metaphorical far-off island, Reserve 22 Chef Thomas Fota created a menu of “mouthwatering foods that you would expect to find when you’re at your tropical destination,” Rusin said.

The selection includes:

  • Macadamia-crusted mahi mahi
  • Coconut chicken sliders
  • Kahlua-braised pork tacos
  • Polynesian shrimp salad served in a pineapple boat
  • Soy-marinated flank steak
  • Tempura asparagus
Chef Thomas Fota (via Julie Rusin)

The bartending crew came up with an inventive menu of tropical drinks to accompany the eats. They spent hours working on drink recipes to ensure the craft cocktails were not as sugary as tropical drinks often are, Rusin explained. Served in tiki glasses, the drinks include an ocean breeze made with coconut rum, blue curacao and gummy fish, and a rye tai, which puts a twist on a traditional mai tai by incorporating rye whiskey.

Rusin said she hopes the Tiki Bar Takeover will continue to be a fun way to help boost morale for employees and diners after more than two years of the coronavirus pandemic. She added that she doesn’t think diners are traveling to Chicago to go out to eat or visit a themed popup bar as they had been prior to the pandemic.

She said, “We kind of wanted to bring Chicago to Glen Ellyn.”

Jeff Vesevick, General Manager of Village Links and Reserve 22, echoed those sentiments, saying, “It’s been a challenging couple of years for everyone and the tiki bar is about creating a fun experience, an ‘escape’ for our customers. We love exceeding expectations and seeing the smiles when customers walk in.”

As of late March, Rusin said no end date had been determined for the Tiki Bar Takeover at Reserve 22, simply because “people are loving it so much.”