Puree's owner transfers pizza legacy

New ownership to keep the original pizza recipe and add wings to the menu

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By Melissa Elsmo

Food Writer

"Time flies," said Kris Kahled Reda. "It feels like yesterday that I arrived in Oak Park."

In 1983, Reda, longtime owner of Puree's Pizza and Pasta, 1023 Lake St., traveled from Syria to Oak Park to visit his best friend. Despite the fact Reda had a round trip ticket and every intention of returning to his home country, he opted to stay and has been a vibrant part of the Oak Park restaurant scene for 35 years.

"It's Anan's fault I'm in the pizza business," said Reda of Mayor Anan Abu Taleb. "I am grateful for all he taught me over the years."

Abu Taleb gave Reda his first American job when he hired him as a driver at Giordano's in 1987. Over the years Reda ascended the ranks to assistant manager and in 1994 he stepped out on his own and opened Puree's pizza. After 26 years in business Reda is ready for retirement.  He officially sold Purees to new owners on Oct. 1.

While Reda knows the time is right to move on, he is wistful about the years he spent on Lake Street. He reminisced about raising his son in the restaurant -- gesturing to a corner of the dining room Reda said, "his crib used to be right over there." His son, now 24, joins his seven-year-old daughter and wife as primary motivations for retiring. 

"I am very happy I have been successful," said Reda. "God gave me more than I asked for. I wish the new owners to be just as successful as I have been. Now, I look forward to taking care of my family."

Reda has transferred his pizza legacy to new owners Gregory Steele, Tony Rudd and Dominic Washington. The trio tried the pizza and decided to keep the recipe "as is." Reda joins the new owners for a few hours each day to help them get their footing in the pizza business.

"We love this location," said Rudd. "Kris has taken us under his wing and become a mentor to us."

Steele, who has both front of the house and back of the house restaurant experience, is happy Reda is passing along his pizza making secrets. He grew up going to the movies at the Lake Theater and his sister, an OPRF graduate, enjoyed Puree's Pizza as a student.

The new owners are dropping the pasta, sandwiches, and soups in favor of a more streamlined menu consisting of pizza and chicken with Chicago "mild sauce."  Made popular on the South Side of Chicago, "mild sauce" is traditionally made from a blend of ketchup, hot sauce and occasionally barbecue sauce. The sauce is prized for being sweet rather than spicy, and Steele is developing a seasoned coating for the wings designed to complement "mild sauce."

Puree's Pizza and Pasta has been officially renamed Puree's Pizza and Chicken.

"We want Kris to come back to visit knowing there will always be a sense of him here," said Steele.

Contact:
Email: melissa@oakparkeats.com

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

1 Comment - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Denise HairWiz Roy from Oak Park   

Posted: October 18th, 2020 1:38 AM

This is awesome we were already customers and will definitely continue to patronize this business, as we know first hand about running a restaurant here in Oak Park (owning Surf's Up).A community effort is needed to keep the business going!!

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Latest Comments