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New Restaurants planned for Jeff Park

by BRIAN NADIG
6-13-12

Several new eateries, a deli and an historic walking tour are planned for the Milwaukee-Lawrence shopping district, which in recent months has celebrated the openings of the Chicago Kurdish Cultural Center and the Copernicus Center Annex.

“The number one thing people want in Jeff Park is restaurants, and they want a range of restaurants,” Alderman John Arena’s director of economic development John Riordan said of a recent needs assessment survey which 330 residents filled out.

Arena has said that one of his goals is to create a cultural and entertainment identity for the Jefferson Park shopping district given the success of the 30-seat Gift Theater at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. and the 1,900-seat theater inside the Copernicus Center at 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. and its new multi-purpose annex that can be used for plays and banquets. Arena’s staff has escorted the owners of several prospective new businesses through the business district, scouting available properties. Arena argues that this identity will help attract more restaurants and stores to the area.

Riordan said that the recent success of food trucks which are parked outside of Fischman Liquors and Tavern, 4780 N. Milwaukee Ave., every other Thursday evening and on Fridays for lunch is a strong indicator that the community is eager to support new businesses. Riordan said that the trucks often sell out of food and that patrons consist of a mix of local residents and those who take the CTA Blue Line to Jefferson Park.

Fischman’s operators, Gus and Shanna Karamaniolas, plan to continue to host food trucks even after their new grill opens next to their business, which has been located in Jefferson Park for more than 50 years. The south wall of the tavern will be torn down to allow for the construction of a 1,400-square restaurant inside an adjacent storefront.

Construction is set to start this summer and last about four months, with eventual plans to add sidewalk and rooftop cafes. To go along with the food trucks, Fishman has been selling an increasing amount of craft beer, and the number of beers on tap will increase from 20 to 48.

Another restaurant in the works includes the Jefferson Park Grill, 5364 W. Gale St., which is opening inside the former Freddy’s Fast Food at the north end of the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal. The grill will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner and is expected to open as early as 5 a.m. to accommodate commuters.

Also at the terminal, Butterfield Kitchen is set to open this summer inside the former doughnut shop inside the CTA terminal’s lobby at 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave. Butterfield’s is installing a new kitchen and bakery and will offer sandwiches, salads, scones and prepared meals, which commuters can take home in the evening.

A local restaurateur also has expressed interest in the former Knobe The Stationer store at 5415 W. Higgins, Riordan said.

Meanwhile, a new deli will be opening inside the recently closed Krakus Sausage, 4772 N. Milwaukee Ave. The operators of Gene’s Sausage, which has two other locations in Chicago, are working on plans to open a new retail food store there.

Also new to the shopping district will be a self-guided walking tour which will feature more than a dozen important structures and buildings, including the statue of Thomas Jefferson in front of the CTA terminal. Northwest Chicago Historical Society researcher Frank Suerth said that walkers will be able to download an audio tour onto their smart phone which will be used to guide them through the district.

Meanwhile, a Kurdish center that recently opened at 4803 N. Milwaukee Ave. offers a variety of social activities and educational programs. Center volunteer Musa Karabulut said that many residents have visited the center, inquiring about the Kurdish culture and watching the folk dancing that goes on there. The center has more than 100 members.

Also, several outdoor activities are planned this summer, including a bimonthly farmers market at the Copernicus Center on Sundays starting June 24 and the 12th annual Jeff Park Arts and Music Fest on July 27-29 at Jefferson Park, 4822 N. Long Ave. Also, the 100-year-old Jefferson Masonic Temple, 5418 W. Gale St., will hold several centennial celebrations in August.