Home / News / One-time Cracker Barrel in Elgin to be transformed into banquet hall/event venue

One-time Cracker Barrel in Elgin to be transformed into banquet hall/event venue

What was once a Cracker Barrel restaurant will be transformed into a banquet hall/event venue, the latest addition to a thriving industry in Elgin.

The vacant 15,000-square-foot building at 435 Airport Road will be expanded and extensively redesigned for new use as a banquet hall, according to plans approved by the Elgin City Council. The building was built in 1992 for the Cracker Barrel restaurant and later became a private nursing college.

Additions to the west and south sides of the existing building, as well as the new partial second-floor mezzanine, will increase its size to approximately 23,000 square feet, according to city documents.

Documents show exterior improvements will include contemporary features to give the building a modern look, and a front canopy will be added to protect guests from being picked up or dropped off.

City officials said the facility’s owner, Abdul Mohammed, plans to add a commercial kitchen to the city and said the 180 parking spaces on the site comply with city rules. Most events will take place on weekends or after business hours.

City officials said alcoholic beverages will not be served because the hotel owner does not plan to apply for a liquor license.

Once the renovations are complete, the yet-to-be-named venue will be able to seat up to 522 people for weddings, private parties, fundraisers and other community events or celebrations.

The addition of another commercial event business increases the options available as Elgin continues to expand its reputation as a wedding destination. The fact that the city offers both traditional banquet hall settings and unique alternative venues for events makes it attractive to people planning events, said Bill Brennan, a 30-year wedding industry veteran at Bridal Chicago Expo Elgin.

“Elgin attracts people from all over because of all of its wedding venues,” said Brennan. There are also a growing number of locations in nearby Carpentersville, East Dundee and West Dundee, he said.

Many of the venues in the Elgin area are versatile and can be transformed with different themes, Brennan said. The area’s parks and riverfront also make a great backdrop for photos, he said.

The industry took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many weddings were canceled or scaled back in size, but the industry is bouncing back and next year looks like a good year, Brennan said.

“We’re optimistic for 2024 and 2025. We’ll come back super strong,” he said.

Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

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