Johnny Rockets to take over Cosi space in Oak Park

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

A chain restaurant is shutting down in Oak Park, but another chain is quickly lining up to take its place.

Cosi, which has been a fixture at the high-traffic corner of Lake and Marion in Oak Park for a decade, announced in November that it is closing this spring. But Anthony Shaker, who owns the building at 1101 Lake, has announced that burger chain Johnny Rockets is taking over when Cosi leaves.

Johnny Rockets is a 1950s-themed burger eatery, around since 1947 with more than 320 locations worldwide. Shaker said in a press release that the burger joint will share the space with a full-scale deli operation.

"This 'fast casual' twin use is in vogue in Chicago and will be modeled after its successful operation at State and Lake streets in Chicago," Shaker said in a press release.

The property owner has signed a letter of intent to sign a lease with the joint venture of Halsted Street Deli and Johnny Rockets, according to the press release.

Meanwhile, according to Shaker, the company is also marketing a vacant space across the street that used to be part of Barbara's Bookstore, half of which is now occupied by Potbelly's Sandwich Shop. Shaker said he's negotiating with three different companies for the space, and the future tenant will likely be a restaurant.

"The high taxes and building operational expenses in this area of Oak Park almost mandate that a chain, food service or otherwise, occupy this kind of space," Shaker said in the release.

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Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 9th, 2011 7:29 PM

Unbelievable in Joke Park: actually, the village does greatly influence the type of retail through pro-development policy. By granting zoning variances to developers for increased building height and density, along with significant economic incentives, downtown property values (and hence property taxes) have increased greatly. As a result, building owners have increase retail leases, which can only be afforded by franchise-type businesses.This is the intended consequence of village policy.

Kyle from Oak Park  

Posted: January 9th, 2011 11:03 AM family echoes your post, thanks for the comment! We go out of our way to shop at the local, non-chain places that make Oak Park great. We need to be making it super easy for those businesses to open...Tax breaks, incentives, loans, grants, etc..

Brent Borgerson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 6th, 2011 8:19 PM

Since Maple Tree turned into a yuppie place, there is only one greasy spoon in the area! Greasy Spoons are fun.

unbelieveable in joke park part II  

Posted: January 6th, 2011 4:53 PM

for those that want to see a more upscale rest., why don't you see how easy it is to get one to come here. They won't b/c people around here barely go to the nicer restaurants we already have. Kudo's to this landlord/prop owner for getting in a recognizable name instead of just having an empty space (see next to Cozy Corner on lake street as example). I am sure the same people complaining believed the village and developers when they said Target was going to open a store on lake

unbelieveable in joke park from oak park  

Posted: January 6th, 2011 4:48 PM

people, you are killing me here. Oak Park doesn't decide who to allow/not allow, any more than Shaker or any other landlord/bldg owner. They can target certain business', but the business has to want to open. If I am a landlord, in this case Shaker, and I have a business, whether national chain or otherwise looking to sign a long term lease at agreeable terms to both parties, you can bet your a#* I am bringing them in. For those who want something more upscale, see my next comment..

Sandy Tolley from Oak Park  

Posted: January 6th, 2011 3:04 PM

I agree w/others who dislike the prevalence of national chains, especially when they're cheap restaurants. And why does OP need another hamburger joint? Didn't 5 guys just open up a few doors down?


Posted: January 6th, 2011 11:28 AM

If that last quote from Shaker is true, it indicates a serious problem. Oak Park should encourage local businesses rather than create conditions which favor chains. If high taxes are a problem, how about a special lower tax rate (or partial waiver) for businesses which do not also have franchises outside of Oak Park? Sometimes I see signs encouraging people to shop locally. Buying from a chain is *not* shopping locally.

Tom from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 5:46 PM

John saying anyone complains is the pot calling the kettle black. You're one of the biggest whiners on here not to mention author of some rather rude comments on several stories. Back on point, people have a right to complain. It's the same old thing, coffee shop, ice cream place, bugger joint, rinse and repeat. I love Johnny Rockets, love Potbelly's but is it beyond the realm of reason to have something other than a coffee shop, ice cream or burger place open up in a prime location in DTOP?

R Dangerfield from Oak Park  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 8:49 AM

This is a good thing...really, you can never have enough good burger places. If you look around,I think OP has a good mix of upscale (Marion St Grille, MS Cheese Mkt, Barclay's, LaBella, Maya, etc) and mid range spots, and a good mix of chains and locally owned. I'd have liked to have seen one that sold booze, but JR is a good addition to an area with lots of variety. Hopefully the market (not Village hall) will demand & create a brew pub or brew & view on Madison St in 1 of the old car dealers.

H Youngman  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 7:29 AM

Thanks John, you made me laugh this morning. It reminds me of an old joke: A grandmother is watching her grandchild playing on the beach when a huge wave comes and takes him out to sea. She pleads, "please God, save my only grandson. I beg of you, bring him back. " And a big wave comes and washes the boy back onto the beach, good as new. She looks up to heaven and says: "He had a hat!"

John McCarthy from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 5th, 2011 12:02 AM

As usual, the Doopers complain, regardless of what's done where. Want an upscale steak house? Gibson's will gladly muscle in and take every available parking space. Residents can then complain about the empty Viagra bottles and used condoms. Want more art galleries? Please. People are lucky to afford a gallon of off white latex wall juice at Paulson's. It's always been the Oak Park Way to complain about everything and call a committee meeting to solve nothing at great expense. Turn, turn, turn..


Posted: January 4th, 2011 7:54 PM

I would of liked a UPSCALE Restaurant not another Burger joint. We have 5 guys right down the street.

Jan from Forest Park  

Posted: January 4th, 2011 7:39 PM

Sigh, I like boutique stores better than chains. Why doesn't Oak Park lower the admittedly high taxes so we can have something other than this type of establishment?

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