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Dekker: Not your grandfather’s train station

The 80th Avenue MetrstatiTinley Park is as beautiful as it is functional columnist Julie Dekker says.  |  Julie

The 80th Avenue Metra station in Tinley Park is as beautiful as it is functional, columnist Julie Dekker says. | Julie Dekker~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 3, 2014 1:02PM



Tinley Park has a long railroad history, having been created as the town of New Bremen along a rail line in 1853.

The village’s first train depot, Bremen Station, was built in 1854 in the vicinity of the current Oak Park Avenue station, except it was on the north side of the railroad tracks.

The Rock Island and Pacific Railroad has played a prominent role in the growth and development of the community, which was incorporated as the village of Tinley Park in an election held at the station on June 27, 1892.

Citizens voted 34 to 24 to establish the village, which was named for its first railroad station agent, Samuel Tinley Sr., who served at the station from 1854 to 1880.

The station lasted until 1945, when a much-needed new depot was built, this time on the south side of the Rock Island tracks.

I’m sure that those early citizens could never have imagined the beautiful train station that’s there today. A few years ago, the American Institute of Architects honored the Oak Park Avenue station as one of the 150 great places in Illinois.

The station, which was rebuilt in 2002, offers a lot more than looks. The inside is just as impressive as the outside. Rich woods, bold stone work and open beams create a strong and welcoming environment.

You don’t need to be a commuter to enjoy this station. Inside is Cavallini’s Cafe, offering hot, homemade breakfast fare with fresh egg creations, omelets and pancakes all made from scratch. You’ll find fresh fruits, juices and homemade baked goods.

Cavallini’s also offers nearly 500 types of coffee and 100 kinds of tea. You can even grind your own specialty coffee. They also carry local organic honey and make delicious fresh-fruit smoothies, and the station also can be rented for private parties and events.

The downtown station sure has come a long way from a ticket booth with a shelter. Tinley Park can boast of two of the most impressive stations in the entire Metra commuter system. The 80th Avenue station opened in late 2012 and is one of Metra’s busiest, serving thousands of riders every day in style.

Commuters enjoy first-rate amenities and comfort inside and out. Inside, you’ll find a beautiful free-standing fireplace, Tiffa-style lighting and lots of seating with Internet capability. The 25-foot ceiling of the great room along with large windows, rich woods and stone work bespeak quality and class.

Like the downtown station, 80th Avenue also offers a restaurant, Parmesan’s Station, which provides delicious homemade breakfast fare, coffee and juices in the morning and a full lunch and dinner menu featuring its signature wood stone pizza.

Parmesan’s has a full-service bar, a decadent dessert menu, a wine selection and even many gluten-free options.

You really couldn’t ask for more. The impressive dining atmosphere can make you forget that you’re in a train station. I found it to be a totally unexpected romantic date spot.

And talk about convenience — you can order your food when you leave Chicago, and it will be ready for you when you reach the station.

With both of its stunning stations, Tinley Park has taken the idea of what a train station can be to a whole new level. The stations are destinations in and of themselves, so don’t wait until you need to take the train to experience them.

Each is a wonderful place to meet with friends and enjoy a great meal or dessert and drinks. Our early townspeople would never believe what we’ve done with their humble train station.



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