Bennett-Curtis exterior

The Bennett-Curtis House is located at 302 W Taylor St., Grant Park.

The Bennett-Curtis House is an 18-room mansion that was built in 1900 by George M. Bennett. It was purchased in 1919 by Illinois Senator Edward C. Curtis, and became a staple of Grant Park history.

In 1992, the mansion was purchased by the Zizic family, and they have taken the concept of a simple, dine-in restaurant and have turned The Bennett-Curtis House into a dining experience.

Their on-site events are frequent and varied and include holiday dinners, murder mystery parties, Harry Potter happenings and more. They’ve begun shifting gears from traditional dining to special events.

“We do a lot of special occasions, it’s kind of our forte,” said owner Scott Zizic. “Our thing is the food, but we throw in a fun event on top of that.”

The Bennett-Curtis House is family-owned and-operated. Catering options include passed hors d’oeuvres, buffett-style, charcuterie-style, family-style and plated dinners with options of steak, chicken, pasta and more. They also offer a carving station.

The Harry Potter events are also taken on the road — from Northfield Square Mall to the city to Indiana. The team designs all of the decor and sets for these events to make it as experiential as possible.

“We’ll probably go with what we did last year [which was] a haunted Harry Potter-type thing,” said Zizic of upcoming events held at the house. “Then we change up and go into Christmas and holiday decor and will [host] Harry Potter Christmas.”

As for holiday events, they host Thanksgiving, New Years and more. Last year, they had to pivot and do a drive-thru set up for Thanksgiving dinner where customers could drive up during set hours to pick up their meal. They did the same for Easter and Mother’s Day.

For Christmas, The Bennett-Curtis House works with Christmas Day Inc., Kankakee County, to provide Christmas dinner that is served in nine locations in Kankakee County to those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas. Last year, they served 1,425 to-go meals.

Additional special events include escape rooms where customers can select their own date and have dinner before or after, an upcoming psychic luncheon and seven-course dinners with a themed drink.

The latter is usually an event of six people or more and is based around a type of liquor, such as tequila or vodka, and the food is cooked with that liquor. This is typically done over the course of at least two hours so as not to rush the seven courses.

“Everything is all kind of geared towards the theme,” explained Zizic. “We do [special occasions] with those, too, such as Halloween.”

Upcoming events

Bennett-Curtis hosts many wizard-themed dining events.

During weekends in November through January, wizards and witches are invited to a Hogwarts Feast. Join TBCH for a night of magic as the house is fully decorated to match Hogwarts. Attendees will be sorted into one of the four houses. There will be a themed bar where drinks can be ordered from The Leaky Cauldron, which includes Polyjuice, Butterbeer and more. The night includes a themed four-course dinner and trivia. Reserve tickets at bennettcurtis.eventbrite.com.

Thanksgiving

From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Day), TBCH offers a traditional turkey dinner with all of the trimmings — including starter, soup or salad and a family-style dinner service. Call 815-465-2288 to make a reservation.

Private events & food truck

The Bennett-Curtis House also caters to private events and is popular for weddings, showers and corporate events. When hosting a private event on-site, the host has access to the entire facility, both inside and outside. The staff has everything prepared to accommodate guests in the event of bad weather.

“We always have an A plan and a B plan,” said Zizic, noting that they can accommodate 175 to 200 people depending on the layout.

Additionally, Bennett-Curtis has a food truck for off-site events. The food truck often serves brats, chicken sandwiches, loaded Texas potatoes and creamy macaroni and cheese. For regular catering, everything offered in-house is also offered in catering for off-site events.

For events and dining, The Bennett-Curtis House is always reservation only. For more information and reservations, call 815-465-2288 or go to bennettcurtis.com.

This story originally appeared in Lifestyles of Kankakee County.