Charmaine Candler stands in front of her new restaurant in Country Club Hills. (Supplied photo)
Comings & Goings: Chef opens own restaurant in Country Club Hills
By Bob Bong
Charmaine Candler began her journey to restaurateur while she was tending bar at Aces Bar and Grill in Country Club Hills and would regularly bring in home-cooked food for her customers.
Four years ago, she officially opened her Charmz Kitchen inside Aces and started serving her Southern cuisine and signature egg rolls dubbed Charmz Rolls. In addition, Candler became known for her Philly Steaks, Philly Chicken, Buffalo Chicken and Jerk Chicken.
“The catering and walk-in traffic was overwhelming,” she said partly because of the space limitations of Aces kitchen.
She soon knew it was time to part ways with Aces and find a larger space.
“I left Aces but didn’t want to leave my Country Club Hills family,” she said.
She found space in the same plaza as Aces and earlier this month opened Charmz Kitchen at the northwest corner of 183rd Street and Cicero Avenue.
“We had our soft opening on October 8. We wanted to make sure we had everything just right before we had our grand opening.”
The soft opening menu is not as extensive as the one she’ll offer after her grand opening, but it still has her popular favorites.
“The menu will be quite diverse,” she promised for after the grand opening, which is scheduled for November 12.
Candler said the new space has room for 10-15 diners inside the restaurant, but she anticipates take-out and her popular catering service will be big. Delivery at present is through Door Dash and Uber Eats, but she hopes to offer her own delivery service in the near future.
Since first opening, Candler said she has been busy catering for churches, government bodies, civic organizations, and weddings.
“I first became acquainted with Ms. Candler and her soulful cuisine over two years ago while attending a ministers’ conference. Her catering operation was second to none. But moreover, her delicious variety of foods was no short of brilliant. Her steaks, salads, and Charmz egg rolls were a favorite at our event. I encourage all Cook County residents to embrace Ms. Candler and support her wonderful food establishment,” said Bishop Larry D. Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago.
Candler also expects to grow even larger in the future.
“This is not the end. This is just a stepping stone toward my larger goal,” she said.
Candler said she’s been heading in this direction since she was a child.
She learned about cooking from her mother and great-grandmother as a child in the South. “I’ve been cooking full course meals since I was 11,” she said.
“I’ve learned my cooking skills from life experience rather than school,” she said, adding she did earn cooking certifications and also earned a degree in business administration.
That has exposed her to diverse cooking styles and cuisines and prepared her to run her own business.
Her favorite foods are Mexican and Northern Italian.
Candler said she was approached by many business leaders and elected officials who attempted to recruit her to a variety of municipalities to launch her new restaurant. She said she felt compelled to remain in Country Club Hills.
“We are pleased to welcome Charmz Kitchen to Country Club Hills,” said Mayor James W. Ford. “Given the past success of Chef Candler’s business model, we are encouraging our residents to patronize her new location. Offering diverse forms of eateries is a welcoming attraction for any town. Surely the Charmz Kitchen menu selection will allow our residents and visitors great options in satisfying their taste buds.”
Hours at Charmz Kitchen will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Charmz Kitchen and Catering Restaurant
4858 W. 183rd Street, Country Club Hills
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