Niko’s Lodge General Manager Mary Battin roasts a marshmallow. (Rebecca O'Malley photo)

Niko’s Lodge: Serving Up Great Food in a Comfortable Setting

You’ll be wanting s’mores to finish off your meal at this new favorite. Discover what’s inside this new Algonquin location and what exciting additions lie ahead.

Niko’s Lodge General Manager Mary Battin roasts a marshmallow.

Whenever Mary Battin visited Niko’s Lodge for lunch or dinner, she always came away impressed.

“People were smiling and having a great time,” she says. “When the opportunity came to work here, I jumped at the chance. It felt like a place where I wanted to be.”

That opportunity came this summer when Battin, who’s worked in the restaurant industry for nearly 30 years, was hired as the general manager of Niko’s, 1520 S. Randall Road, Algonquin, in the space formerly occupied by the Barley House in Algonquin Commons.

The restaurant offers a lodge-type atmosphere and specializes in comfort foods such as steak, ribs and rotisserie chicken. It was opened in January by a partnership group that has financial interests in various restaurants and businesses, including the original Niko’s, 41W379 Route 64, Wasco.

“I tell people that Niko’s is all about the casual feel,” Battin says. “It’s a great place to meet friends, head to the bar to watch your favorite sports team on TV and, of course, enjoy a wonderful meal. We’re all about creating great experiences for our guests.”

The experience begins with the atmosphere. Niko’s log cabin décor includes knotty wood, flagstone walls, sofas, fireplaces, rustic lamps and chandeliers. The dining room seats 200, an outdoor patio seats 70 and there’s ample seating in the bar area. There are two semi-private rooms for bridal showers, graduation parties and other special occasions.

When it comes to dining, Niko’s is best known for its rotisserie chicken and slabs of tender pork ribs. “We have customers who keep coming back just for the chicken and the fall-off-the-bone ribs,” says Battin. “Great seasoning is the secret. We make a great sauce and cook them so tender.”

The menu offers plenty of options. For starters, there are appetizers like Boom Boom Shrimp, Baked Goat Cheese and Lodge Wings. There’s an assortment of tasty pastas, salads, sandwiches and burgers, including Niko’s Burger, a half-pound beef patty topped with melted cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and barbecue sauce. Niko’s offers specials throughout the month, and an all-you-can-eat Friday night fish fry.

But before you hit the road, save a few minutes to roast a marshmallow and make a gooey s’more – always a complimentary treat – on one of Niko’s outdoor fire pits near the front door. “Of course, people always ask if they can have another s’more,” Battin says. The answer is always “yes.”

Niko’s draws patrons from across the northwest suburbs, including Lake in the Hills, Hampshire and Marengo. “I think casual dining appeals to everyone,” Battin observes. “Niko’s is a fun environment. Food is important, but it’s about the people.” She adds that guests can expect to see a few changes in the months ahead, including an updated menu and possibly entertainment.

The restaurant has a staff of 70 full- and part-time employees – the backbone of the operation. “They have a lot of energy and band together to open the doors and take care of guests,” says Battin. “When people come in, our servers take care of them the way they want to be treated. Our guests are like family.”

Once a customer herself, Battin is thrilled to be part of the Niko’s family. “I absolutely love being around the guests and people I work with,” she says. “I’ve met people throughout my 30 years in this business that I still keep in touch with. In this business, you never know who you’re going to meet. Every day is different.”

Niko’s is open Monday through Thursday, 4-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.