Tradition of good breakfasts and lunches continues with new owner at Sparks Grill

After starting and operating Sparks Grill in Montello for 23 years, Evelyn Papa has retired and turned over the reins to new owner Jacob Suter. Her advice of “don’t change anything!” is something Suter is taking to heart, as he continues Ev’s fine tradition of good food and service at the restaurant.

Suter comes to Montello from the northwest Chicago suburbs, but he is no stranger to this community and Sparks. A family lake house on Buffalo Lake was the spot where he spent over 15 years of vacations. During those stays, he and his family tried all the local restaurants and settled on Sparks as their go-to breakfast spot for the past 12 of those years.

Jacob reports he has been in the restaurant industry his whole life, deciding a long time ago he wanted to be involved in a business that would never die. He attended culinary school at the Cordon Bleu College campus in Chicago. As he worked in food service, he realized he most like diner-style businesses for their friendly, family settings. Part of his food-related experience has also included operating a food truck. It was within the last year that he decided he wanted his own “brick and mortar” restaurant. When his father was visiting in Montello just before Father’s Day of this year, he and Ev started a conversation about how many eggs she goes through a week and a suggestion was made to let him know when she would consider selling the business. Jacob said his dad started doing the math on that egg question – she told him she uses 10-12 dozen a week – and the idea for Jacob to own Sparks was born.

Jacob says of Evelyn that she is “a smart lady, a good businesswoman,” who built up a great reputation at Sparks. He credits her also with a smooth transition when he took over on September 28th. Suter has kept the same menu, with no plans to remove anything after seeing how popular all the breakfast and lunch choices are with the customers. He has also welcomed the same staff, saying the whole package is, “such a well-oiled machine.” He thanked the regulars for continuing to come in and support those staff.

He also loves the fire truck theme and will keep the signature truck parked in the parking lot in front of the restaurant, planning only to “buff it up” a bit.

Looking at the customer base, Jacob sees people coming from near and far, even 17-20 miles away on a regular basis, in addition to the seasonal guests. 

Sparks is currently open 7am-3pm Thursday through Monday; closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Suter may go to a 7 day a week schedule for spring and summer. Other ideas find him thinking about opening up his food truck for some limited menu drive-through service down the line, or possibly some weekend dinner hours.

You’ll find Sparks Grill on the north end of Montello at N4460 Highway 22, right next to Northside Automotive – you can’t miss the large fire truck parked outside and lots of friendly faces inside! Dine in the restaurant, or order take-outs by calling 608-297-7902.