Geppetto's bids Oak Park addio

After years of serving pizza in Oak Park, Geppetto's has permanently closed

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Without so much as a sign in the window to announce its closure, Geppetto's Pizza & Pasta, 113 N. Oak Park Ave., quietly closed up shop for good Feb. 12.

Once an Oak Park favorite, the restaurant, which opened in 1983, has had a harder time attracting customers in recent years. For that reason, Geppetto's owner Oleg Vachenko opted to cease operations, according Geri McLauchlan, who owns the building.

"He's been losing money for months and he decided to close his doors," McLauchlan. "He implied to us that he's getting out of the [restaurant] business."

Vachenko did not respond to Wednesday Journal's requests for comment.

In McLauchlan's opinion, Geppetto's low prices combined with the changing restaurant industry contributed to the lowered profits.

"The restaurant business is totally changing, and I don't think he was charging enough," she said. "He just got tired of owning a restaurant, so he decided to move on."

McLauchlan and her husband purchased the building almost two years ago and put in a lot of effort to refurbish it, putting in a new roof, gutters, grease traps, water heaters, air conditioning and heating. They also replaced the wastepipes and renovated the four apartments above Geppetto's.

"We really put our heart and soul into the building," she said. "We weren't afraid to spend the money to fix things up for whomever."

In an effort to boost Geppetto's business, she and her husband brought in an architect to draw up plans for outdoor seating, so Vachenko could apply for a permit from the village.

"He never followed up on that," McLauchlan said. "We were trying to help him to be successful."

However, McLauchlan isn't bitter.

"We're sorry to lose him but sometimes you've gotta just move on. Things fall apart so you can put them back together better," she said. "My husband and I wish him well."

McLauchlan would like to see another restaurant in the 3,100-square-foot space where Geppetto's operated for decades under multiple owners.

"It needs somebody to put a nice restaurant in there and redo the interior and bathroom," she said. "The guts are there, but the insides are tired."

The space has a lot to offer to interested restaurateurs, including its capacity to seat up to 90 guests.

"It's in a great location, close to a lot of activity, transportation and good parking. It's vintage with a lot of character and high ceilings," she said. "It's a solid space and we're willing to work with somebody."

McLauchlan has enlisted David King & Associates Inc. to lease the property.


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Reader Comments

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Aquanda Evans  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 9:44 PM

My first slice of square pizza as a kid. Will never forget!

Edward Bunch III from Oak Park  

Posted: March 1st, 2020 8:41 AM

Check their Yelp and you'll understand why they REALLY went out of business. We don't do bad service/ bad quality in Oak are bound to go out of business.

Emily Kosmal  

Posted: February 17th, 2020 10:18 AM

I'm heartbroken. Their gnocchi in tomato cream sauce was my absolute favorite. The fresh warm cookies when you ordered delivery were a special treat too. Goodbye Geopettos, at least know that my husband and I loved your food :,(

Cheryl C. Griffith from oak park  

Posted: February 16th, 2020 8:31 PM

I dont know if i can go on without the roasted red pepper soup

Nancy Trock  

Posted: February 16th, 2020 5:19 PM

Geppetto's participated in the Dine Out program for seniors 60+ you could get a delicious full meal for $4 and have leftovers for the next day. Thank you for your generousity, Geppetto's !

Clayton Johanson  

Posted: February 15th, 2020 9:30 PM

Geppetto's has been tired for years. I'm amazed they made it this long. I won't deny that OP can be difficult for business, but not every closure is because of OP taxes.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2020 7:31 PM

They lost our business years ago with bad service.

Tom Tarrant  

Posted: February 15th, 2020 4:55 PM

Loved that place When I was the JV cross country coach at OPRF I would take my team there every year. When I made head coach used them for our banquets They always were super nice and gave us a break on the food One of my favorite students managed there until he decided on a career and majored in computer science A go to place for OPRF kids at lunch An old school Italian place that will always have a place in my and many others memories Thanks sooo much to the owners

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: February 15th, 2020 11:18 AM

I was there last week at midday on the weekend and ordered a meatball sandwich. It took thirty minutes to arrive. When I came in, I was the only customer in the place. They had a vegetarian pizza by the slice years ago and took it off the menu. Their closing : They did it to themselves.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: February 15th, 2020 10:54 AM

I'm quite impressed with how the Village Board is being pro-active about finding suitable replacements for the latest Trump economy vacancies* *Sarcasm. The Board is trying to figure out if they can OK a 90 story high rise apartment buildings that charge 10K a month for rent on the empty spaces.

Yvonne Brode from Berwyn   

Posted: February 15th, 2020 9:34 AM

Oh no! Say it ain't so! We had our second date and got engaged there! We'll miss you Geppettos and your classic pizza!

Jan Stephens  

Posted: February 15th, 2020 7:34 AM

That's sad. We ordered from there quite a lot. That's apparently a tough area for restaurants. I don't quite understand the reason, though. Their prices seemed fair enough. I liked Winberies and Gepettos better than some newer places.

Suzanne Vestuto from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: February 14th, 2020 11:53 PM

Very sad!! Over the last few years, their delivery service once a month was a splurge, on salads, buffalo chicken spinach wrap & thin crust pizza. And sometimes a dessert. Great staff!! Hope they are able to secure new jobs quickly!! ?'??'?

Richard Lane  

Posted: February 14th, 2020 9:07 PM

And the beat goes on ....

Barbara Purington  

Posted: February 14th, 2020 8:17 PM

Say it isn't so! Geppetto's Pizza Closed! We ordered every Fri. night for over six years. Every Fri. night. Our Fri. ritual. Where will I get a Mediterranean salad with Greek Kalimata olives, Feta cheese, tomatoes, onions, Pepperocini? And a thin crust cheese pizza? Beyond sad.

Sandy Pedersen from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2020 6:11 PM

Winberies, Fair Share, Geppettos, what's next?

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