Downtown Joliet was once a thriving industrial community full of restaurants, shops and residences. Today, the neighborhood is nearly abandoned. Few people remain in the apartment buildings. Most businesses moved out during the rapid de-industrialization of the 1970s and 1980s. Only one sit-down restaurant still remains – The Department. Located inside downtown Joliet’s historic police and fire station, The Department brings a fresh flare of casual fine dining to the area in hopes of reclaiming the area as a hang-out spot. Reservations are usually needed on the weekends, and live rock bands are usually booked for Saturday nights. Every table and bathroom stall has its own high definition television. Antique police and fire department gear hang on the walls along with historic pictures of Joliet.
One of the best items on the menu is their specialty – The Department Chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are marinated and grilled over an open flame. Spinach and feta cheese are melted over the top of the breasts, and garnished with plum tomatoes, kalamata olives, and artichokes. This dish is usually accompanied by the vegetable of the day, wild rice, or a potato dish. Everything is elegantly assembled on white, square porcelein plates for extra added visuals. Aside from food, they also have a large selection of wines and microbrews on tap. The Department is a hidden treasure in Joliet’s post-industrious ruggedness, and is one of the most unique dining experiences in Will County.