A culinary program featuring fine dining could be added to the menu at the Brae Loch Golf Club in Grayslake pending an agreement between the Lake County Forest Preserve District and the College of Lake County.
College officials in February began discussing a partnership opportunity with the forest preserve district, which operates the golf course west of Route 45 adjacent to the CLC’s main campus.
As proposed, CLC’s culinary arts program would be moved from the high school tech campus to Cafe Willow at the University Center of Lake County and the kitchen there used for instruction.
Eventually, the plan is to relocate the Prairie Restaurant, which features culinary student creations at low prices, from a small basement space in Building A on the CLC campus to Brae Loch.
As envisioned, dining and banquet services would be provided for students, staff members and the general public.
“It would be a much more easily accessible public place where people could get lunch — an affordable fine-dining lunch,” said Lindsey Nemcek, CLC’s public relations manager.
“It would give our culinary students more exposure,” she said.
The forest district would continue to operate the golf course and a portion of the clubhouse for a pro shop. The bulk of the building would be converted for use by CLC.
Forest district officials favor the idea and authorized negotiations for a license agreement that would come to the full forest board for an official vote, possibly next month.
“This is a really extraordinary program,” said forest Commissioner John Wasik, who represents the Grayslake area. “This is worthwhile for us, and building a relationship with CLC may lead to other things.”
CLC would rent the space from the forest preserve district. A recommendation to the forest board’s operations and finance committee calls for CLC to operate the golf snack bar and provide on-course beverage sales. CLC also would assume building operational, repair and maintenance costs.
There is a kitchen in the building, and it always has served as a banquet venue.
An exclusive caterer was hired about 15 years ago, but the move caused friction on the board and ultimately didn’t work out. The room seats up to 165 and is still rented for events, with guests allowed to use their own caterer.
Forest board President Angelo Kyle said the proposal stemmed from an introductory meeting with CLC President Lori Suddick, who started in May 2018.
“She said, ‘We’d like to do something at Brae Loch’ and this was two years ago,” Kyle said during the finance committee meeting at which the item was discussed.
The CLC board is expected to vote on an agreement Sept. 22. Floor plans and estimated costs would follow.