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Stella’s Place betting on offering something for all

Terry Scott said he is frequent visitor Stella's Place Chicago Ridge. He likes thit is close home with whhe said

Terry Scott said he is a frequent visitor to Stella's Place in Chicago Ridge. He likes that it is close to home with what he said were "better payouts" than other gambling options. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 30, 2014 1:28PM



One of the newer additions to the Chicago Ridge business community is a place that promises to offer a little something to everyone.

And those who are fortunate may leave with more money in their wallets.

Those who want to stop in for a light meal can do that at Stella’s Place. Those who want to do a little gambling can do that. Or if someone wants to just visit with friends, that’s on the agenda, too.

Stella’s Place is owned by Laredo Hospitality Ventures, based in Des Plaines, which has several sites around the suburbs, including one in Hickory Hills and another in Oak Lawn.

The Chicago Ridge location, in the Commons of Chicago Ridge — northwest of the intersection of Ridgeland Avenue and Southwest Highway — has been open since November, and the grand opening was held Jan. 22.

There are two more nearby. The Oak Lawn site at 8759 S. Ridgeland Ave. opened Jan. 15. The Stella’s Place in Hickory Hills, 8067 W. 95th St., opened Jan. 24.

“It’s been going great,” Charity Johns, vice president of operations for Laredo, said of the Chicago Ridge site. “We love it.”

When a patron walks in, there’s no immediate sense of being in a gambling establishment.

“It is stylized to be reminiscent of mid-century modern, so everything you loved about the ’60s should be here,” Johns said, pointing out the lava lamps and other items that have been found at various sales in the area to bring a sense of authenticity to the surroundings.

“I do a lot of antiquing in my free time. It’s a conversation starter. You’ve even got some custom artwork, the lighting has circle globes, right down to the tables and chairs,” Johns said. “We tried to establish that it feels like somebody’s home.”

After one walks through the dining or sitting area, there are five gambling machines in the rear room.

“Our establishment is 21 and over because we’d like to have the environment of a neighborhood cafe where an older demographic, much like myself, who doesn’t really enjoy a bar or loud noise, to go and hang out. One of those places you can come, have a glass of wine, an espresso, have a light bite and the entertainment can be gaming,” Johns said.

There are adjustable seats near each of the five gambling machines. Tables nearby that swivel out. There are hooks for coats and purses. There’s even a charging station for cellphones at each machine, and each machine has multiple games on it.

Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar thinks Stella’s Place will be a smashing success.

“I think it’s fabulous. Not only is it another great new business coming to our town, but it’s a unique business. The whole concept is awesome. I’m not much of a gambler, but I dig the whole idea that you can get sandwiches, beer and wine. I think it’s great,” Tokar said.

Tokar likes the retro decorations on display.

“My grandmother would have loved it here if she were still alive. She’d sit for 12 hours straight, just bring her another cup of coffee. I think people will go for this,” Tokar said. “This is very upscale. It’s just gorgeous.”

Chicago Ridge resident Terry Scott is already a big fan of Stella’s Place. He’s there almost daily and likes that it is close to home.

“I used to catch the bus to go to all the casinos ... Four Winds, Horseshoe. The problem with that is you can’t leave when you want to leave. You go there and lose a couple, $300, they won’t give you nothing to eat. You go home broke and hungry,” Scott said.

“This is more convenient. The people are a lot friendlier here,” Scott said. “And the payouts are a lot better here, too.”

The gambling machines offer a wide variety of options, he said.

“Here, you sit down and don’t have to walk around. Each machine has at least 15 games or so. It’s very convenient,” he said.

He also likes the 10-for-10 cards that are sometimes given patrons, promotional cards that give gamblers $10 credit on menu items if they spent at least $10 on the gambling machines. That, he said, is something one won’t find on a casino boat.

Dining options run the gamut from breakfast sandwiches, bagels or oatmeal, for example, to items such as chicken wings, turkey chili and tuna salad sandwiches. Beer and wine are sold. Hard liquor is not.

Laredo CEO Gary Leff is enthused by the response Stella’s Place has received in Chicago Ridge and several other locations in the suburbs.

“We’re super excited to be part of the Chicago Ridge business community and the Chicago Ridge community at large,” Leff said.

Leff said the location — near busy Ridgeland Avenue, 95th Street and Southwest Highway — was key in deciding to locate in Chicago Ridge.

“It’s for people who want a cafe environment or maybe they are beyond going to bars. It’s low-key. We’re getting really good responses,” Leff said.

Gambling machines will be switched out from various locations to offer more variety to regular clients “to keep it fresh,” he said.

Stella’s Place is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.



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