Ideas for the Winberie's space

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I'm sure most of your readers are wondering what could possibly go into the Winberie's space. I've been wondering the same thing, and I think there are only three possibilities. The first is to break it up into smaller spaces, which would be a shame.

There are two restaurants though, that I think could succeed in that space. The first would be a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant. I have many points with them and I have to drive to places such as Oak Brook, Skokie or the Loop to use them. I've been surprised that they haven't opened a restaurant in Oak Park as of yet. They have such a large following that they could survive even construction.

The second restaurant that could succeed there would be something akin to the original Erik's Deli. It was a nice, light, cheery place that invited you to bring your children. I'm sure many restaurants offer children's menus and do other things to accommodate children, but almost all the Oak Park restaurants are primarily adult-oriented. 

If you want something that is more appealing to families you have to go over to Junction Diner in Forest Park. It was a shame that when the Erik's owners remodeled with the best of intentions, they put in smoky windows and dark drab interiors. It made it look more elegant, but it lost its appeal to the family crowd. 

Now with Tasty Dog gone there isn't a place that really says, "Come on in and bring the kids and they'll have a good time." I hope that changes in the next year or two when my grandson gets old enough to take him to places like that.

Joyce Porter

Oak Park

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Reader Comments

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Greg Mitchell  

Posted: February 13th, 2020 12:31 PM

Restaurants are a traditionally low margin businesses. Given the confiscatory tax environment in OP, I would be hard pressed to risk capital on a venture of this sort.

Chris Johnson from OP  

Posted: February 13th, 2020 11:47 AM

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Christopher isn't being serious. Just commenting based on what has been happening lately - saying all of that could apply here. But, maybe I'm wrong. hahaha I don't feel like we have limited places to take our kids. I like that places offer a "kids night" with free or super discounted meals. Some even play kids movies and supply toys, etc. However, something fun there would be great. I don't think chains do all that well in OP, right? Seems like a lot of more locally owned establishments...

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: February 13th, 2020 11:16 AM

Christopher Goode you do not need to make Scoville Park into a surface parking. You just pull the old idea that once was floating around to build a parking lot underneath Scoville Park. For the vacant space you can mow down the the block and building a new complex with all types of restaurants. From kid friendly to fine dining. That could be the first 4 floors. Then add on 20 more floors for rentals since that is what Oak Park needs, is more housing. Make the rents affordable starting at 2500.00 a month for a studio up to a 3 bedroom 4 bathroom suite at 2.5 million. Not only will it be affordable to the people who can afford it, it will also put all of the other restaurants out of business. This type of project can be started even before Madison street gets completed

Christopher Goode  

Posted: February 13th, 2020 10:12 AM

Maybe this building, which can't seem to keep tenants for any length of time lately, should be purchased by the city for redevelopment, and then we should offer the land free to Mariano's to tear it down and build a windowless suburban grocery store on the site. Who cares if it was a beautiful historic structure and local landmark. We have way too many of those already. They could join it up with the vacant bank lot behind on Lake Street, and the park district could give them Scoville Park to be turned into a surface parking lot for the store. And then lets make sure the village gives them some cash to use to develop the site, as well as lower taxes for twenty years or so, because we know we wouldn't be able to coax any developer to do it without that kind of incentive. We could certainly use another grocery store there, and you can't have too much surface parking in the center of the village. We don't have a Mariano's yet, and not enough grocery stores. I am sure it will complement the new Pete's Market just a few blocks down Oak Park Ave. on Madison Street. Perhaps we can change our design standards to better reflect how these grocery stores will look so that other building and street improvements can relate to them better. Bigger backlit freestanding signs at street corners for example. There are so many ways we can improve the look and feel of Oak Park!

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