Oak Lawn Hooters to move into new building
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org May 15, 2014 4:38PM
The Hooters restaurant at 9159 S. Cicero Ave., Oak Lawn, will remain open as long as possible before the new restaurant is ready this year, architect Craig Podalak said. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 17, 2014 2:09PM
More seating, more parking, an entrance just for carry-out and other upgrades are on the menu for a new Hooters in Oak Lawn, which the restaurant chain plans to build adjacent to the current location, a company official told the Oak Lawn Village Board this week.
And the plan is to have it open before football season begins.
Hooters plans to spend about $3 million for the new restaurant — instead of simply leaving “a tired old building” and going elsewhere — because of the success it has had there, at 9159 S. Cicero Ave.
“Oak Lawn has been tremendous for us to grow and develop our brand in Chicago,” Hooters chief operating officer Sal Melilli told the board Tuesday night. “We want to continue to be a neighborhood restaurant. I think most people are pleasantly surprised when you come into Hooters and you see that 65 to 70 percent of our customers are women, children, families, sports teams.
“When we look at the things going on in Oak Lawn, we’re committed to being part of that growth,” he said.
The board unanimously approved parking and landscaping variations, paving the way for construction of the new building further back from the street than the existing structure, which will remain open as long as possible before the new building is ready, Melilli said.
Hooters, famed for its wings and waitresses, has 450 locations worldwide, Melilli said, including one in downtown Chicago and 10 in the suburbs.
Hooters has bought some vacant land near the site needed for the project, he said.
“We’ll add additional seating. We do a tremendous to-go business at this location because of the (population) density. This is going to be a store that has a dedicated to-go entrance. It’s going to have its own dedicated pickup-service area. No other (Hooters) store has that,” he said. “We think that could be a footprint for us to use in other markets.
“We’re going to be putting in some extra street parking, with (village board) approval. We’re taking out some of the hardscape; there’s going to be additional landscaping. There’s going to be all LED lights.”
And having the building in the middle of the property will help with the parking flow, he said.
“We’re prepared to make that commitment,” Melilli said. “We’ll probably be close to a $3 million investment. We choose to put that money here. We want to be part of the community.”
The goal of having it all ready by football season “is very aggressive,” said Craig Podalak, of Palos Heights-based Podalak Architects, “but it is possible if we get shovels in the ground by June 1.”
Podalak said the one-story building will have 20 more seats than the current 142 and will leave more room for parking.
Potential delays depend on the installation of new gas and electric lines “and we’re at the mercy of the utility companies,” Podalak said.
His architectural firm designed the Hooters that opened recently in Countryside, and redesigned the bar at the Orland Park Hooters.
Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury said after the meeting that she was glad the restaurant chain decided to remain in Oak Lawn.