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Poor Phil's — a popular seafood restaurant and bar on South Marion Street in Oak Park — is expanding its footprint, which will eventually mean about 100 more seats and a kitchen four times as productive.
For years, the shell bar has rented a little storefront just north of its main space at 139 S. Marion St., which has remained mostly underused for the past decade, partly as a storeroom, according to Dennis Murphy, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Bunny.
But they have expanded their kitchen into half of that space and have now set about adding new kitchen equipment that will eventually quadruple their output. As a result, they plan to add some extra breakfast items, such as pancakes and waffles, and possibly more dinner items, too.
The updated kitchen features are about a month from being ready. They will eventually use the other half of the empty storefront to add about 50 more seats sometime next year and another 50 outdoor seats along South Marion because of the recently expanded sidewalks.
The restaurant has applied some other cosmetic changes as well, adding new flooring, painting the walls and installing new TVs. All told, the price tag will end up reaching six figures.
Murphy said they've been thinking about doing the work for years. But the village's recent investment of $5.4 million to add brick streets and bluestone sidewalks gave them the extra kick in the pants to move forward.
"Once it was decided that the street was going to be redone, we figured we might as well take advantage of that and do this remodeling at the same time," he said. "It was kind of like a little nudge to do something that probably should have been done a few years back."