Former late-night hangout Jack’s Restaurant to close
by SEAN KEENEHAN
Jack’s Restaurant, 5201 W. Touhy Ave., Skokie, has been sold and will close in September after five decades of serving loyal patrons.
Jack Koretos and Jerry Rubin bought a 1950s restaurant that was called Jake’s Snack Shop in 1965 and opened Jack’s Restaurant in its location. Rubin remained a partner until he sold his share of the business to Koretos and his son George Koretos in 2000.
George Koretos began managing the restaurant at that time. Rubin died in May at the age of 85.
George Koretos worked at Jack’s as a teenager and has worked full-time at the restaurant for the past 30 years. Koretos, age 52, said that it is the right time for his family to sell the business.
Koretos said that his father is 87 years old "and he’s ready to get out. I work every day, and I’m tired and ready for a change."
"Developing is starting to come back, and I was getting a lot of offers, and it kept on getting bigger and bigger and we just couldn’t refuse," Koretos said. "It was a hard decision to make, but you’ve got to do what’s best."
Jack’s operated as a 24-hour diner, and became a late-night hangout that attracted teenagers and young adults. After the Village of Skokie went smoke-free in 2003, the restaurant’s late-night business began to suffer and it changed its hours to a 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. breakfast and lunch cycle in 2007.
"I don’t need to stir the pot with this, but Skokie was the first town to go smoke-free before the whole state went smoke-free, and I had a lot of after-bar people, musicians, college kids, high school kids, and they all hung out here and they all smoked," Koretos said. "My dinners were okay, but I always knew I could make it up on a late night, but I didn’t have the late night any more. I kind of wish the whole state would have done it, but it didn’t happen that way and it really affected us."
Koretos said that despite the change to a limited operating schedule, the restaurant’s menu remained pretty much the same and that the restaurant continued to offer a large selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert items.
Koretos said that the developer who purchased Jack’s also has purchased two other properties near the restaurant and is planning to redevelop the land, but a development plan has not been announced. Koretos said that the restaurant will close on Sept. 8.
"We’ll be here for a little while, but it’s good to have a chance to say goodbye to my customers and a chance for my co-workers to find some work," Koretos said.
Jack’s employs between 25 and 30 staff members and Koretos said that maintaining customer relationships has played a large part in keeping the restaurant operating for 50 years.
"There’s two things, good food and you treat everyone as family," Koretos said. "My colleagues and my customers, they’re all family to me. I know probably 80 percent of my customers by their first name.
"I’ve watched their kids grow up and now I am seeing their kids being born. I’m only 52, but now I’m seeing a third generation.
"I have people who just became friends because they come in here every day and they sat by each other and they would just start chatting. Next thing you know they’re all sitting at the same table together, and I watched that grow for years like that. It’s a great thing. I appreciate their loyalty, and I’ll miss them and I love them."