Lou Malnati's coming to Oak Park

Pizzeria moving into former Mancini's spot


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

The Malnatis now own a slice of Oak Park.

Although there's no set opening date, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria is expected to move into 1038 Lake St. sometime this fall. The location is the former location of Mancini's, which is now located just down the street from the future Lou Malnati's Pizzeria.

The restaurant group finalized the purchase of the Lake Street building at the end of 2012, along with the parking lot behind it, according to Mindy Kaplan, the marketing director for the company. Lou Malnati's is best known for its Chicago-style deep dish and thin crust pizzas. Kaplan said Oak Parkers should expect the same menu as seen at the other locations.

"We don't have any Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in that area. Obviously [Oak Park] is a great area," she said, citing population and density as reasons to bring the pizzeria to town. "We've had a lot of requests from that area."

Kaplan said negotiating a place for parking, pick-up, carry-out and delivery was crucial to picking a location.

The restaurant group has been eyeing Oak Park as a potential location for years, and the 6,500-square-foot space will allow seating for 150. Besides the downtown location, Malnati's has outlets in Western Springs, Downers Grove, Naperville, Elmhurst, Geneva, Bloomingdale and Carol Stream, among others in the greater Chicago area.

Max Williams, executive director of the Downtown Oak Park business association, said he'd heard Lou Malnati's was eyeing the area but learned just last week that the deal was secured.

"We're certainly excited to have them join downtown," he said. "They will add a little more night life to the [area]."

Williams said the group is still working through the village permit process, but interior demolition renovations have begun. The business is expected to go before the Oak Park Plan Commission on Feb. 7.

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Reader Comments

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RF Resident from River Forest  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 4:00 PM

When is Lou Malanti's going to open? It's October 2013 and the building looks empty - not at all rennovated. An update on this would be nice!


Posted: January 29th, 2013 4:10 PM

An argument breaks out over an article about a popular pizza joint coming to Oak Park? Really?

Paddy Boy  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 12:54 PM

That's enough lads! We've all had our say on the matter. If this was Chicago the local alderman would just stop by and pick up 20 free pies - drop ten or so off at city hall and be done with it!

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 12:09 PM

Cheap shot.

Gym Koughlin  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 12:00 PM

On and on I go. Each word more useless then the next.


Posted: January 29th, 2013 9:24 AM

Strike 3 to you, Jim. I was pointing out that your comment had nothing to do with the article on which you were commenting. The article mentioned nothing about the retail grant program. You brought up this topic out of context. And don't ask me to provide details about what you brought up out of context. You're the one asking questions. Why don't you provide some answers for a change? Get off your chair and do something at last!

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 7:46 AM

Jim - I am happy to note that you take on others here in town. I was beginning to think it was just me. Jackie has prompted my wife to strongly suggest that I just "read to your hearts content - write NOTHING" When Jackie looked up where I live and suggested I move the two blocks to Berwyn we decided this getting a bit dangerous.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 4:49 PM

Swing and miss, Gene. No tirade by me nor am I opposed to assistance being provided to local businesses. They are an important part of the community. I shop Oak Park! During a previous WJ forum discussion with Village trustee Ray Johnson, he was not able to provide details on the retail grant program available from Oak Park. These are our tax dollars involved and there's no harm in asking for some specifics. If you can offer information that details how much was spent, which businesses were funded, how the money was used, the amount repaid, and the overall success rate; please share. Otherwise, grab yourself a spot under that soapbox. I have no use for one or you.


Posted: January 28th, 2013 3:25 PM

Did anyone notice that Coughlin's whole tirade against business assistance was based on an inkling (a wild guess) that Lou's might have been helped by VOP? Thus, he managed to bring up a subject based on no facts whatsoever, simply because he wanted to get up on his soapbox and preach about something that was on his mind (& agenda).

Paddy Boy  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 12:29 PM

Jim - my comment wasn't necessarily directed at you - but rather at the overall culture of OP. But since you asked, my family did operate a manufacturing business in the area for over 30 years + my mom worked in the local school system for many years. Finally I don't believe I will be eating pizza in the dark. Lou will leave the lights on for us - again, that's a joke.


Posted: January 28th, 2013 11:11 AM

Best Deep Dish in Chicago. Can't wait for Lou's to open here in Oak park.

fred Tamburino from Oak Park   

Posted: January 27th, 2013 12:57 AM

Wait until the health department makes them gutt the place to open. And the health department will make them change things 50 times before they open!

Tom from Oak park  

Posted: January 26th, 2013 9:31 AM

This made my day. I love their pizza

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 7:42 PM

I take it you don't own or operate a local business, Paddy Boy. Just thought I'd asked a legit question about the financial assistance that Village Hall makes available to new businesses. No harm. No foul. Sounds like you would just prefer being in the dark while enjoying your pizza.

Paddy Boy  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 5:22 PM

Only an Oak Parker could turn a pizza place into a pollitical/government discussion! By the way - allow me to order up, "One extra large with corn beef and cabbage!" (That's a joke you crazy progressives!)

OP Guy  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 3:57 PM

After reading some of the comments I can too believe it's important to consider how we can sustain indie businesses, but if these businesses have survived years in the village, I don't see how they're going to effected to any great degree when a new competitor comes to town... unless they were not that good in the first place, and residents went out of lack of choice. I also agree that I wouldn't want Oak Park to become another generic suburb filled with chains, but I think Lou's is good.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 2:26 PM

You're right! We need to hear from both new and establsihed businesses in Oak Park regarding their experiences in dealing with Village Hall. Has the process improved and are they taking advantage of the support Oak Park has been willing to provide?

Paying attention  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 2:08 PM

Isn't being more business-friendly & streamlining the red tape at Village Hall what Anan running on for Village Pres? That said, I'm 100% for incentives and assistance to luring both new business AND helping struggling businesses that we need. But I do agree it needs to not play favorites. People seem to think Lou Mal's is a great win for OP, but I do think we need to have a discussion about how to get & keep more local, indie small businesses here.


Posted: January 25th, 2013 1:46 PM

This is seriously good pizza. Very glad they are coming here.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 1:15 PM

Ned, there's a shop on Garfield that may be asking the same question. Of course, they may have also qualified for some Village assistance when they started their tattoo business.

Ned Ryerson from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 1:03 PM

I just hope that the tattoo parlor on north avenue is getting as much help as someone on lake street. If they are not, and I think we know the answer here, the program should be discontinued as it is unfair to the business community and the taxpayer. And, I'd be curious to see who makes the judgement as to whether it is effective or not - the villiage, or an outside auditor. Food for thought.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 12:54 PM

Ned, it's done on both a large and small scale. The point is there has been scant transparency regarding the entire program relating to Village Hall funded assistance to new businesses. Trustee Ray Johnson once offered , via this forum, that he planned to take a look into the overall effectiveness and examine the results of the Village-backed program but has yet to report his findings. I understand the need to help a new business get started but it should not be at the expense of an existing enterprise. Of course, the new restaurant will provide jobs and increased tax revenues but if what appears to be an unfair advantage forces another to close it's doors; what's the overall benefit? Lou Malnati's will likely be a big success in Oak Park and I do hope that the Village does not get things bogged in red tape. That's something the current board acknowledged has been a problem in the past and vowed to make changes. It might be helpful to survey businesses that have opened recently in Oak Park and verify that the approval process is now operating without unreasonable delays.

Erin from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 12:24 PM

My family is thrilled to hear this. We now drive into the City to get Lou's to go, so this will be wonderfully convenient. It's a great fit for downtown Oak Park. It's a nice family business.

Ned Ryerson from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 12:17 PM

The VOP should not be providing financing for any businesses at all. I have never understood subsidies to business owners given the property tax situation. Talk about picking winners and losers.


Posted: January 25th, 2013 12:15 PM

Good luck with that 'sifting through the village permit process."

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 11:41 AM

I have no objection to Lou Malnati's and wish them much success. There's no intention on my part to discourage any new business from opening in Oak Park. Just wondering if the Village is providing financial incentives. You too should want to know, Eugene. Tax dollars are scarce and need to be distributed wiselyand carefully. It's mighty tough for a small business to succeed when the new kid in town is afforded special treatment. Also consider that the Village provided substantial support to an individual who wanted to open a wine shop on Lake St. near Oak Park Ave. The business closed within a year and no repayment was required or received. That's a real downer for Debbie and anyone else who wants greater accountability. Enjoy your day!


Posted: January 25th, 2013 11:41 AM

For those in opposition of this restaurant opening: have you read anything about this company? All locations are owned and operated by the Malnati family. Along with the fact that their pizza is to die for, they will be providing the community with jobs. I think it's a win for Oak Park and the surrounding areas.

William from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 11:36 AM

Great! Another cookie-cutter franchise resturant where we can all enjoy each others lack cultural intuition. And its almost next door to that wonderful spot that shows independent, grown-folks movies.

Eugene Upper  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 11:19 AM

Very good. Lake Street as a Pizza destination spot. Jim C. you're usually a real Debbie Downer!

Holly from Chicago  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 11:10 AM

I love Lou's. I think they were the first to offer a crustless Pizza.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 10:13 AM

Has this new restaurant been promised or approved to receive any financial incentives from the Village of Oak Park? There are numerous loans, grants,etc.,. available for new commercial developments and the overall success/failure rate of the program has never been disclosed. I would object to financial support being provided to a new enterprise that will be directly competing with long established local businesses. It certainly contributed to the demise of one local pizzeria after the Village provided funding/incentives for a national chain to open right next door to their operation.

Daniel from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 8:19 AM

Well, the world may not have ended on December 21, 2012, but it sure feels a lot more like Heaven around here knowing Lou's opening soon!!!

Daniel Foley from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: January 25th, 2013 7:51 AM

Finally; we have been picking up from the loop on the way home; now, it is local. Thank you Lou's!


Posted: January 25th, 2013 12:07 AM

I hope he has a better personality than Al Mancini.

Sobo from Oak Park  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 11:32 PM

You're all nuts. Bertolli's, Jim & Pete's, and Amato's are all way better than this place. However, it's not bad and I will go for a change of pace.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 11:16 PM

When I was a teenager, I could eat several slices of pan/deep dish-type pizza of the Malanati genre. I can't eat like that anymore, but of all the many places making this kind of 'za, I think Malanati's is one of the best. I'd prefer a smaller mom n' pop, I guess, but heck, this is overall good news.


Posted: January 24th, 2013 10:37 PM

*Does Homer Simpson drool and voice* "Ohh hohohoho... Piiiiizza ... Auggllgurge..." I'm hungry for some now.

OP Guy  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 9:56 PM

Great news! Whether you like the pizza or not, this is a score for Oak Park as not only does it bring more taxes, but will bring more life to Oak Park. Now if we can get the Borders location filled with something awesome.

Irideinoakpark from Oak park  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 9:44 PM

Yes. In the 1980s Lou's brother (Ray, I think) had a pizzeria where Leona's is on Madison. Full on medieval suits of armor where on display in there. Great pizza too. We had it once a week probably.

OP Resident #624 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 9:42 PM

Hell yes! The best of the best on Lake Street? Couldn't ask for better news!!!

Citizen X  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 9:29 PM

Could it be, my dream come true!? The best pizza in Chicago, hands down.

Love lake street   

Posted: January 24th, 2013 8:45 PM

Didn't oak park have a Lou malnat's? In the spot where Leona's is on Madison? Just don't think we need 1 more pizza/Italian spot. Either way I prefer an Indy over a chain

Mary O'Toole from Oak Park  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 8:32 PM

We love Lou M's, can hardly wait!

Great News from Oak Park  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 7:13 PM

This is great! It's our favorite pizza in all of Chicago.

Great News from Oak Park  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 7:11 PM

This is great news! We l

Beverly Forbes from Oak Park  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 5:58 PM

Great. It's about time our favorite pizza

Best Pizza in Chicago!  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 5:51 PM

The Best Pizza in Chicago...finally in Oak Park? My mouth is watering already! You'll be getting our business probably once a week. lol

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