The purveyor of an upscale Oak Park restaurant recently purchased the long-vacant building directly south of the CTA Green Line station. But the owner of Hemmingway's Bistro isn't planning on opening another eatery. Rather, the 10-year-old bistro may eventually relocate there.
Christopher Ala closed on the purchase of the empty building at 100-106 S. Oak Park Ave. last Friday. The two-story brick building was formerly home to a Thyme & Honey restaurant and Val's halla Records, and was to be part of a large condo development on the corner.
Thyme & Honey vacated and moved to Forest Park five years ago, the property fell into foreclosure, and a local real estate investor snatched up the property earlier this year before selling it to the Oak Park restaurateur.
Ala put the second- and first-floor space up for rent this past weekend. Eventually he would like to relocate Hemmingway's Bistro there. However, the restaurant currently has about five years left on its lease at 211 N. Oak Park Ave., on the first floor of the Write Inn.
"I want to be my own boss. Why pay rent if you could own the building? It's just the next step in our growth," Ala said, adding, "We have a lease commitment that we can't get out of. When that lease commitment is up, we'll look at the possibilities of moving the restaurant."
He'll explore other options for the bistro's future if someone wants to sign a long-term lease at Oak Park and South Boulevard.
"I've got a mortgage to pay too," Ala said. "Our intention is to move Hemmingway's down the street, but that's five years from now and a lot can happen or change."