Since its opening, Winberie's Restaurant, at 151 N. Oak Park Ave., has served all-American fare to the people of Oak Park and its neighboring communities, but the window of opportunity to eat there is narrowing rapidly.
In a Dec. 5 press release, Select Restaurants Inc., which owns Winberie's, announced the restaurant will cease operations Dec. 28.
"With the lease expiration in 2020, the company has decided to close the business at this time," the press release stated.
Select Restaurants also expressed thanks in the press release, saying, "We would like to gratefully acknowledge the efforts of its dedicated staff and the loyal support of the many thousands of customers who have visited the restaurant over the years, and we look forward to serving our customers one last time over the next several weeks."
The press release also stated that the Ohio-based restaurant group "will make every effort to assist its employees with future job placement."
The restaurant group will honor gift certificates through the rest of December at Winberie's and at any of its other establishments.
"I'm still processing the shock of it," said Jim Solnes, who owns Scoville Square, the building in which Winberie's is located.
"I'm absolutely sad to see them go," Solnes said. "It's been a cornerstone for 37 years and we have a great relationship."
Now faced with finding a new tenant to fill the space come January, Solnes said he's "always worried until a new business moves in."
When asked for comment, Select Restaurants Inc. offered little in the way of explanation behind the decision to close Winberie's.
"Winberie's Restaurant and Bar in Oak Park will be closing December 28. The restaurant has enjoyed serving the residents of Oak Park and the surrounding communities for over 37 years. Thank you for your interest," Select Restaurants media representative Robin Scott wrote in an email to the Wednesday Journal.
According to Winberie's Executive Chef Ivy Grant, the restaurant will remain full-service until the end.
"I'm sad," Grant said. "I've been here for 19 years. It is what it is."
Out of those 19 years, she has worked as executive chef for the past two. Grant, who has worked for Select Restaurants for more than four decades, said she has enjoyed serving the area throughout her time at Winberie's.
"I'm going to miss Oak Park," she said. "The people of Oak Park – they make this restaurant what it is."
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