By Anna Lothson
The former Pizza Palazzo restaurant is about to have new life as a seafood restaurant, as the owners of a Hillside eatery plan to move into the space at 314 Madison St. in Oak Park.
Surf's Up, a Cajun/Creole restaurant specializing in seafood and offering soul food on Sundays, is owned by Oak Park couple Denise and Eric Roy. Their specialties include lobster, shrimp, catfish, fish tacos and fried green tomatoes.
The family-style establishment will seat about 35 people and offer dine-in and carry-out options. The menu gives customers the option for meals to be made into sandwiches, tacos or full dinners.
"I'm so excited," Denise Roy said in a phone interview Thursday. "It's my community. I've got ties here."
Roy said the Hillside location opened in January, but the closure of a Menards hurt traffic in the area. She also found out that their landlord had plans to bulldoze the site, so she and her husband decided it was time to pack up and bring the business home.
Roy said the Madison Street spot didn't have a "for lease" sign, but she noticed the space was empty. She tracked down the owners of the building through the village and arranged a deal shortly after.
"I would have gone to Oak Park in the first place if I knew I could just go over there and talk to [the owner]," she said.
Apart from a chalkboard menu and surfboards adorning the walls, the design plans aren't finalized, said Roy.
The building's owner — Spiro Papageorge, who owns Papaspiros Greek Taverna on Lake Street — said he was happy to rent to the Roys. He thinks the seafood aspect is unique and will help drive traffic to the area. They were the first people to approach him about the building, which he purchased in July.
"It's going to be more colorful on Madison Street," he said. "They will bring more activity. … There is no [seafood place] around."