It was an almost 20-year run for Oberweis Ice Cream and Dairy Store in Oak Park, but the shop at 124 N. Oak Park Ave. is expected to close in the coming months, according to president and CEO Joe Oberweis.
Oberweis said in a telephone interview that the company could not reach an agreement with the landlord on its lease renewal.
“We tried to work out a renewal, but we couldn’t do it,” he said.
Oberweis was unable to say exactly when the shop’s last day will be, and added that it’s possible the landlord will come back with another offer – but that is unlikely, he said.
The store, which made its Oak Park debut in 1999, is one of 42 locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Missouri.
Oberweis said Cook County’s increase in the minimum wage played a role in the store’s profitability, but he does not expect any other closures.
“In any sort of restaurant business the primary driver is cost and labor,” he said.
Businesses like his often pass the cost on to the customer but, according to Oberweis, the rapid increase of the minimum wage has made that more difficult.
“We went from, not long ago, a minimum wage of $7.25,” he said. “Now it’s at $12 and will be at $13 and that’s very difficult.”
He described the company’s workforce as made up largely of young people earning extra money.
“We’re not hiring people who are supporting a family,” he said. “Many of them are 16- and 17-year-old high school students trying to earn some extra money.”
Oberweis said the company has loved being in Oak Park and that the closure doesn’t mean they’ll be out of the village forever.
“If we find a good spot in the vicinity, we’ll be back,” he said. “We have no desire to be out of Oak Park or anything of the sort.”
The news comes less than a week after Red Mango yogurt and smoothie shop, 1044 Lake St., closed its doors. Owner and Oak Park Village Trustee Jim Taglia said Red Mango was profitable, but he did not have time to keep running the business with his other responsibilities.