Homewood officials seek greater restaurant variety

Village officials consider 2015 a good year for Homewood diners, but they also say "good" isn't good enough.

  The former Dragon Inn on 
  Ridge Road is one of several
  sites village officials hope 
  will attract new restaurants 
  to town.
(Photos by 
  Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

In addition to established favorites, several new restaurants joined the dining scene. Fratello's added an Italian deli to the village's offerings. La Voute added a French flavor. Portillo's new location at 175th and Halsted meant local residents would no longer have to drive to other suburbs to get their Portillo's* fix. Potbelly added to the sandwich scene, and Uncle John's made barbecue available on the east side of town.

But village officials do not believe the dining scene is complete, and they have been working recently to attract more eating establishments.

  Delanoe's on Dixie Highway, 
  like Dragon Inn, is a site 
  already set up for a 
  restaurant business. 

Mayor Richard Hofeld and Economic Development Director Tom Vander Woude attended a meeting May 6 of the Chicagoland Restaurant Brokers Association to make connections with the people who make the deals that make restaurants happen.

Their goal, Hofeld said, was to get the word out about available locations in Homewood and to seek restaurants to fill some of the culinary gaps residents have identified.

  The former Famiy Video 
  store at 183rd Street and 
  Dixie Highway. 

Hofeld noted there are buildings available downtown that are already set up as restaurants: the former Dragon Inn at 2057 Ridge Road and Delanoe's at 18155 Dixie Highway. There are also two that could be converted to restaurants, including the former Family Video building at 183rd Street and Dixie Highway and the former Southgate Pharmacy at 18659 Dixie Highway.

  The former Southgate 
  Pharmacy on Dixie Highway. 

All the sites are privately owned, but village officials have gotten indications that owners are open to selling or redeveloping the properties, Hofeld said.

In addition to promoting sites, he and Vander Woude sought to attract specific types of restaurants that would fill niches. He said they don't want to increase competition for existing restaurants but want to provide local diners and visitors with greater variety.

Based on comments he gets from residents, Hofeld believes the community would support Mediterranean, authentic Greek and Cajun cuisine. There is also demand for steak and seafood offerings and for a traditional diner-type establishment.

He also thinks a culinary school could flourish here.

Hofeld invited residents to help with the project of attracting restaurants to fill those niches. 

"We can all spread the word," he said. "If anyone has a favorite restaurant, tell the owner about opportunities in Homewood. Here's an opportunity to help make the community's wishes come true."

* Correction: The story originally noted that the arrival of Portillo's gave local diners a place to get their hotdog fix without driving to other suburbs, but an alert reader pointed out that Pop's in the Cherry Creek shopping center also serves that role and preceded Portillo's. The Chronicle regrets the oversight.

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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.


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