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Pizza, baked goods and more to roll into Tinley Metra station

Michael Papandrepulls fresh pizzfrom oven his Parmesans Wood Stone PizzFrankfort Illinois Wednesday January 23 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

Michael Papandrea pulls a fresh pizza from the oven at his Parmesans Wood Stone Pizza in Frankfort, Illinois, Wednesday, January 23, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 25, 2013 12:16PM



Starting Monday morning, Michael and Mary Ann Papandrea will be serving baked goods and coffee inside the 80th Avenue Metra train station in Tinley Park.

That’s just the start of what soon will be a full-service restaurant.

Their Parmesans Station will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends, eventually offering much of the same cuisine found at their Parmesans Wood Stone Pizza in Frankfort.

Papandrea, 51, who grew up on Long Island and attended culinary school, is a former executive chef at the Holiday Inn in Matteson. He and Mary Ann, his wife of 25 years, opened their Frankfort restaurant in 2004.

They and village officials believe their concept for the restaurant in the train station will work out well.

“This is what we had in mind,” Village Trustee Dave Seaman said.

Papandrea is thrilled knowing about 3,000 people will be at the station twice a day, calling it “a great target market.”

He envisions a smoothly operating system in which commuters can place orders when leaving downtown Chicago, pay in advance, and pick up their dinner order moments after exiting the train as they are heading home.

The first focus is on the commuters, who may get hungry early because he plans to be baking in the train station from 2 to 4 a.m., he said.

“We have an app in the iTunes store. People can download the app, order online from the train. Their food is not only ready and packaged but paid for so they can continue that mass exodus every day to get to their car to somehow be first out of that parking lot. Not even a stride missed,” Papandrea said.

The village board Tuesday night approved a license agreement that has the couple paying $1,100 rent to the village every month, along with 2 percent of annual gross sales up to $300,000. After gross sales hit $400,000, that rate increases to 2.5 percent, assistant village manager Michael Mertens said.

The restaurant owners will not be responsible for paying property taxes because it’s a license agreement, not a lease, Mertens said.

Both sides agreed to a five-year deal with an option for five more after that expires, Seaman said.

A gas oven, which can use wood chips for flavoring, will be installed in the restaurant, Papandrea said.

The other vendor finalists for the station were the Odyssey Country Club’s banquet facility, and Diana’s Kitchen, 16707 S. Oak Park Ave., village manager Scott Niehaus said.

Any of the three would have worked out well, Seaman said, but the village board was impressed with Papandrea’s attention to detail and long-range plans.

What sold Papandrea on moving into the train station was the beauty of the building, with its great hall and towering ceiling, he said.

“I see musical events happening at this location,” said Papandrea, who plans to cater parties there on weekends and after the weekday evening rush ends.

“We see the whole idea coming together and phasing things in over time,” he said.

Three of the couple’s four adult children will be involved in helping run the restaurant, Mary Ann Papandrea, 52, said.

“Every restaurant owner you talk to that has a restaurant in Tinley and one somewhere else say the one in Tinley does so much better,” she said.

Parking shouldn’t be a problem as the village has designated about 20 spaces for the restaurant.

“The spaces that are closest to the door will open first because those people get there at 4:30 or 5 (a.m.),” Michael Papandrea said.



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