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By Jean Lotus
Mere months after opening a bar and restaurant in Oak Park, a village restaurateur is adding another eatery to her repertoire.
Rachel Dennis, a former vice president for Bar Louie Group in Chicago and owner of Oak Park's Lake Street Kitchen + Bar, recently closed on a foreclosed restaurant space at 410 Circle Ave. in Forest Park. It's hosted a revolving door of unsuccessful restaurants over the years, most recently the Shuckin' Grill, an oyster-themed restaurant.
The outside facade of the space will be considerably changed: with windows installed and the disappearance of the building's "mural wall," according to plans submitted to the village of Forest Park.
The space was formerly owned by beleaguered developer and restaurateur Robert Marani. He ran through a number of ventures at the site, including La Bella Bisteca in 2008 and La Piazza from 2003 to 2008. Marani put the Circle Avenue space on the market for $750,000 in May 2010, but Dennis reportedly bought it out of foreclosure for less than $200,000.
Chef Jason Kurosaki, formerly of Avec, will split his time between the Oak Park and Forest Park venues, leaving sous chefs in charge when he's absent. The menu will expand on the Lake Street Kitchen offerings, which Dennis describes as "broad-reaching for the global palate."
Lake Street features such items as grape flatbread (with rosemary, bleu cheese and green grapes) or a $19.50 caramelized steak. The Forest Park restaurant will have a smoker, and barbecue and home-made breads will take a prominent place on the menu.
She's still brainstorming on a name and is open to suggestions. As for a timetable, Dennis says there's a long way to go.
"It's a mess in there," she said. "There's a lot of trash to throw out and a lot of demolition work to be done. Late summer is the earliest I could picture opening up."