Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, started by legendary restaurateur Rich Melman in 1971, is poised to purchase a sizeable portion of Marion Street, probably near the current underpass.
LEYE currently owns, licenses or manages more than 60 establishments in Illinois, Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Minnesota and Nevada.
"We've been considering an Oak Park location for a long time," said a LEYE spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous, "and this strip seems a perfect place to set up a number of brands, side-by-side."
Although the precise location on Marion Street and the specific "brands" remain unspecified, it's our understanding that at least three LEYE-type restaurants will move into a stretch of three or maybe four side-by-side lots on Marion Street. It seems likely that these restaurants will include Wildfire (a higher-end steakhouse), and a smaller Oyster Bar, much like the one located at Shaw's on Hubbard in Chicago (though we have to believe somewhat smaller).
It was confirmed that the new restaurants will probably not include any Chinese restaurants, in the style of Big Bowl or Big Bowl Express, as there are already a number of places that Asian food in the immediate area.
Personally, we'd love to see a Paris Club locate on Marion – a glamorous nightclub-type bar/restaurant on Marion Street would be a welcome spark to the after dark activities in the area. I've long admired how the nightlife on Madison Street in Forest Park seems to encourage new restaurants, and having a late night cocktail lounge in the center of our village would have a very positive impact on the restaurant scene.
And it would be fun.