After a devastating fire in March, the crew at Andrea’s Restaurant has come together to rebuild the eatery, and will finally reopen the space under the name of longtime owner Charlie Philippou. Daughter and restaurant manager Maria Philippou said the family’s goal is to cut the ribbon at the renamed “Charlie’s” in about three months, before the winter holidays.

“Charlie hopes everyone’s doing well, he thinks about all the customers all the time and hopes to see everyone when we reopen,” said Maria Philippou.

The entire building has been cleared — “the fire destroyed everything, it had to be gutted,” she said — and customers should expect all-new drywall, light fixtures, floor, and everything else when it reopens. She mentioned a white-and-gray modern color scheme, though the crew is still planning the decor.

Once Charlie’s reopens, she said they plan to add more features to the menu, which was known for its breakfast dishes and senior discounts. The restaurant is scheduled to be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days of the year, and include such specials as a free glass of wine with every dinner purchase; a free meal for kids with the purchase of an adult entree from 5 to 10 p.m. daily; and 10 percent off for all residents of Forest Park every Thursday, according to Charlie’s website.  

 Philippou said they’ll likely hold a grand-opening party.   

“It’s not going to be like how it was, an old school diner. It’s going to be a lot cuter inside,” she said. “All of our employees have been doing their own thing and are excited to get back together.”  

On the night of March 25, around 9:35 p.m., firefighters arrived at 7427 Roosevelt Road to find flames shooting through the roof of the one-story restaurant. The fire started and was contained in the kitchen. Damage to the kitchen was described as extensive and, while flames did not penetrate into the dining room, that area of the restaurant did sustain serious smoke and water damage, Fire Chief Bob McDermott said at the time. He determined there was nothing to indicate that the origin of the fire was suspicious.

The March fire was the second owner Charlie Philippou has faced at one of his restaurants. Years ago, he was celebrating the baptism of his two children in his native Cyprus when flames roared through Cosmos, located just down the street at 7343 Roosevelt Road. Philippou opened Cosmos in 1981, the same year he took over Andrea’s. At the time, he decided to keep the name of the old owner who had completely remodeled the place.  

The Forest Park mall across the street is located on the site of a former torpedo factory. At one point, the diner was named the Torpedo Tap and later, the Armory Lounge. It served as an unofficial headquarters in the 1950s and 1960s for Chicago Outfit mob boss Sam Giancana, who lived in neighboring Oak Park. 

“We’ve been in the community for so long, it’s just part of our daily life to work there,” Philippou said. “It’s just important to reopen [here]; it would be different reopening in a different town. Forest Park has that hometown feel, you know? The community is super awesome to work in and have a business.”  

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com 

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