Erik’s Deli, 107 N. Oak Park Ave., has become an Oak Park institution since opening in the early 1980s.

Longtime villagers remember having lunch at Erik’s long before the restaurant’s renovation in 2009. It’s also a favorite hangout for former Gov. Pat Quinn, who lives in the nearby Chicago neighborhood of Galewood.

But Erik’s is going through some changes, all of which have not yet been revealed.

The Oak Park Board of Trustees unanimously approved a liquor license for Altiro, a new tapas restaurant that will be moving in to the Erik’s location.

Vicki Scaman, who recently served as chairman of the Liquor Control Review Commission prior to being elected Oak Park village clerk, told the board of trustees that Erik’s owner Ajay Bhatia “is partnering with a chef and is going to have a concept of Spanish tapas at Altiro.”

Bhatia could not immediately be reached for comment.

“They don’t have a lot of space to do any outdoor, but they would look at doing an open window, but nothing too expensive, so it was a wonderful proposal,” Scaman said in April.

Village Trustee Andrea Button, who recently became liquor commissioner for the village, asked at the April meeting if there would be two establishments, with the new restaurant moving into Erik’s and Erik’s moving to the storefront formerly occupied by the now-shuttered Red Hen Bread, 736 Lake St.

Red Hen closed in February after a seven-year run at the corner of Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue.

Scaman told Button that the plan to move Erik’s to the Red Hen location was discussed at the March meeting of the liquor board, noting, “I do not believe that a proposal has come forward completely through the business department.”

David King, head of the Oak Park commercial real estate firm David King & Associates, could not confirm if Erik’s was moving to Red Hen, but divulged that several interested parties have inquired about the property.

Scaman told the board in April that Erik’s does not currently have a liquor license and she did not believe they planned to seek one in the future for the new location. She added that it “would be a wonderful thing to see that [Red Hen] space used in a similar way and also with the history Erik’s has in the community to see them be able to stay with that concept as well.”

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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