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A fast-food restaurant specializing in falafel — those popular deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas — plans to expand from its original location in Chicago, and Oak Park is likely to be its first foray into the suburbs.
Falafill has been a hit in its Lakeview location (3202 N. Broadway) since opening about a year ago, said owner Maher Chebaro. He hopes to start up four more spots this year, including in Oak Park, the Gold Coast and two in the Loop.
A lease has not yet been signed in Oak Park, according to Chebaro. But the discussions are about "70 percent" complete, and he hopes to have an agreement hammered out in the next few weeks.
"It has a good feel," Chebaro said when asked why Falafill is targeting Oak Park. "We felt we could be a nice addition to it, and we found a location worth jumping on."
He declined to name the specific address, since the lease isn't finalized, but did say he likes Lake Street.
Falafill offers falafel salads ($6.95) or sandwiches ($4.95), the latter stuffed into white or wheat pitas. Those items come with a trip to the restaurant's topping bar, which includes everything from yogurt sauce to pickled turnips.
Chebaro, a native of Beirut, has worked in the restaurant business for 25 years. He previously opened several eateries in his home country, along with the now defunct Tribal Grill and Souk in Chicago. Falafill was Chebaro's first attempt at fast food, and he hopes to eventually expand the fledgling business into 100 locations across the country.
"We always wanted to grow," he said. "The idea was not to open just one from the beginning. Things went according to plan and we want to move to the second phase."