Papaspiros to move across Lake Street under new name

Greek restaurant will have new chef, updated menu

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Papaspiros in downtown Oak Park is closing shop after 15 years at 733 Lake St. and moving across the street.

Owner Spiro Papageorge confirmed last week that his Greek restaurant will close, but said a new, similar restaurant will move into 728 Lake St., formerly Velvet Rope, a gay night club that closed last summer, following a fire.

Arson was ruled the cause but no arrests have been made and the police are still investigating the incident. The building was listed for lease after repairs were made inside. Papageorge is among three investors who entered into a lease with the building's owner.

Moving the restaurant to Evanston was considered since one of the investors lives there, but Papageorge convinced his partners to remain in Oak Park. In return, Papageorge agreed to give up the Papaspiros name.

"I'm so happy that with my new partners we decided to stay in Oak Park," he said. "I'm looking forward to opening up soon."

The Oak Park restaurateur said that while the original larger space was nice, economic realities make the smaller spot desirable. Because of the limited space, he said their catering and carryout business will expand. He also hopes the smaller space will create a cozier atmosphere.

The new restaurant doesn't have an official opening date yet, but Papageorge said it will be soon. The name will be revealed at its grand opening.

Papageorge is thankful for his 15 years as the owner of Papaspiros, which opened in May 1997. He said he's thankful for the support of Oak Park and River Forest residents and the opportunity to operate in the building owned by landlord James Bushhouse and his wife Noreen. Now he's looking forward to working with Mike Fox, who owns the 728 Lake St. property.

"I'm proud to have lasted 15 years," Papageorge said. In that time, Papaspiros has seen its share of celebrities and television network appearances. It's most notable customer, however, has been Gov. Pat Quinn, who visits once a month.

"We're very proud of that," said Papageorge, who added that the new restaurant will feature more delivery options and be focused on specialty Greek and Mediterranean dishes. A new chef with "new and old ideas" will be coming from Athens, Greece to the new establishment. The new menu will mesh Greek, Mediterranean and European flavors and tapas (small plates). But traditional Greek dishes will still be available, Papageorge said.

Contact:
Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Tony from Berwyn   

Posted: August 24th, 2013 6:14 PM

I've know Spiro and Sophia since 1990 when they owned The Iternational Café, in Berwyn. Their food was always fresh, homemade and authentic. Every restaurant they've owned has been cleaner than most hospitals. I look forward to them reopening and wish them continued success.

Dina Schenk from Oak Park  

Posted: July 21st, 2013 1:35 PM

My partner and I cannot WAIT for the new restaurant to open! Papaspiros was always one of our very favorite restaurants. the food was amazing and Spiro was always so gracious and welcoming. Can't wait for the reopening!

Jo from Berwyn  

Posted: July 20th, 2013 7:21 PM

Yeah!!!!! while looking for a restaurant to go to tonight I saw this notice that Pappaspiros will be coming back (under a new name) soon. Yeahhhhh!!. My favorite restaurant as well as my families and friends. Tried to go there a few months ago and much to my dismay found it closed. Will let others know about this good news. Loved your menu, so please don't make tooooo many changes. Greek salad, saganaki yummmm, braised lamb and sooooo many others. Can't wait for the reopening.

Viv from Houston  

Posted: June 12th, 2013 10:21 AM

Glad to hear they are moving across the street! I've worked for Spiro, Sofia, and Sammy at both locations (the used to own The Lake Room at the 728 location before Velvet Rope). I've been trying to convince people to move to a traditional Mediterranean tapas style for years, and I think this will be more manageable. As for the reason behind moving, isn't it obvious? In today's fluctuating economy, it is much more desirable to have a smaller and more intimate location with less overhead costs.

chris theformer bartender from loutraki greece  

Posted: June 1st, 2013 6:37 AM

i used to work in the bar from day 1 and for about 3 years til i moved to greece i can assure you i was allways paid on time and the quality and service would never be overlooked spiro his wife sofia and john his brother are good people (sorry almost forgot sammy)i wish them luck ...

Franky from Oak Park  

Posted: April 10th, 2013 12:15 PM

Maybe he'll pay his employees on time now, instead of 3-4 weeks late. Can't wait to try the new food this chef from "Athens" will be making.

Christina Bertsatos from Elmwood park  

Posted: March 29th, 2013 2:21 PM

I don't understand why everyone has such problems with the Papaspiros restaurant. I enjoyed being an employee there. I enjoyed working for that family. I'm wishing them luck on there new restaurant. Spiro hopefully everything goes well. To Tim Colestock for you to have the nerve to say that Spiro is playing games to renegotiate his lease is a bunch of BS. You don't know what is going they his head or the troubles or anything. I would keep those rude comments to yourself.

Augustine from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2013 4:25 PM

Why even include the word "closing" in the article's title if they're simply moving across the street ? Poor word choices by the author of the article. Is any reason given why going through the expense of moving across the street to a smaller venue ?

Sharon  

Posted: February 2nd, 2013 8:32 AM

I'd be so sad in Papaspiros was leaving town! We've been going there consistently since they opened. They have great food, and we've always had great service--treated like honored guests and family! I wonder what will take this space--it's huge--I've never been there when there was anyone in the lower level.

Greek Geek  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 2:36 PM

We're glad that they are staying in town, even if in a smaller place. We try to eat at Papaspiros at about once a month and we are always treated like valued customers. The wait staff know us and what we like. For those who haven't had good experiences, I understand your frustrations, but we haven't had any complaints about the service or food.

Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 9:27 AM

Love their food and service.

Keepin It Real  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 9:05 PM

Frank Elliot = COWARD !!!!

Foodie from Oak Park, Il  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 8:54 PM

Used to love Pappaspiros, but the food, service, and cleanliness has slipped over the past few years. I have found the outside dining area to be filthy, uninspiring and uninviting. I hope the new location, if it is for real, will infuse new energy into the restaurant.

Resident foodie  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 8:38 PM

I liked the food I got there (except for that insanely salty cheese dish, but that may just be personal taste), and the service was not bad but nothing to write home about. The food did take an insanely long time to come out of the kitchen though, and there was only one other couple there at the time. Maybe Greek food takes an insanely long time to cook? I don't really understand why they'd bother moving across the street other than for lower rent. I'm glad for delivery, as O.P. needs more.

Jeannette from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 7:42 PM

Why? I have dined at both establishments & will never return. Too many other great restaurants in Oak Park. Plus, Greektown is so close & so much better. I chose to move from Chicago to OP so that I could continue to enjoy what Chicago does better.

Tim Colestock from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 6:49 PM

Will believe it when I see it. Suspect this is just Spiro playing games to renegotiate his current lease.

Tom Holmes from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 6:48 PM

Have not been to Greektown since Papaspiros came to town. Enjoy friendly service and great food. Hang in there !!

Marnie Rourke from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 6:22 PM

I am glad the restaurant is staying in town. We need every business we have. The problem is: everything tastes better in Greek Town, no matter where you dine. I even prefer the gyros at Tasty Dog.

Sam of Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 6:07 PM

Sure hope this move improves the quality of service and food. While Papaspiros has its fans who adore it, Papasipiros has consistently been one of the worst restaurants my wife has ever dragged me to. Never again -- and after our last distasteful experience there -- food and service -- she finally agrees.

Dia Kristy from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 5:48 PM

ANYPLACE will be a good place for this terrific restaurant. Thanks for the heads-up!

Janice patterson from Oak park  

Posted: January 31st, 2013 5:35 PM

Good news on the delivery options-don't make too many changes to the menu- we all have our favorites!

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