LaGrange Park restaurant now flat as a pancake
Only the back wall and door remain Dec. 3 of a former pancake restaurant in LaGrange Park being demolished to attract a new development. | Jane Michaels~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 18, 2012 12:45PM
LAGRANGE PARK — Just a few crumbs remain of a former pancake restaurant on La Grange Road demolished since Dec. 1 to make way for a new commercial enterprise.
Possibilities were limited to develop the one-story structure built in 1951 just south of Woodlawn Avenue and the Village Market shopping center, said Peter Barritt, property manager for TBZ Realty & Management Corp.
Interest remained high in the property after an Original House of Pancakes restaurant closed in 2007, Barritt said.
“We had thousands and thousands of people interested in that location,” he said.
But there were a number of drawbacks to the old structure of 3,400 square feet, Barritt said. It was not accessible to handicapped persons, there was no sprinkler system to meet modern fire codes and an elevator would be required for the basement storage area.
The restaurant opened as a Howard Johnson’s in 1951 and became a pancake house a decade or so later. The property is owned by Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization, based in Omaha, Neb., known for life insurance and numerous commercial holdings.
Several Italian restaurants, including the Pompei chain, expressed interest in the last few years, but had difficulty with the financing given the recession, Barritt said.
“Now one of our prime goals is to have people come by and have a vision for what the site could be. It’s not locked into the most recent use,” he said. “We don’t know at this point.”
Barritt said TBZ and the owners aren’t ruling out anything for the property zoned for C-2 commercial use, including offices, stores or another restaurant. A two-story structure with a walk-out basement could result in 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of space, he said.
The village would prefer a sale tax-producing business, at least on the first floor, he said. As a small village without home rule or a lot of resources to offer, LaGrange Park doesn’t have tax incentives or improvements to entice businesses, he noted.
“But, the demographics are super and there’s a lot of traffic on La Grange Road,” Barritt said.
Some potential tenants have claimed they want to locate further south in busy La Grange, but Barritt said La Grange Park offers less traffic and no one-way streets or tie-ups at railroad crossings.
“It’s got a lot of potential,” he said. “We’re at the beginning of the journey and anxiously awaiting the next step.”