Edgebrook’s Dakota 94 no more
by BRENDAN HENEGHAN
Dakota 94 restaurant, 5304 W. Devon Ave., is closing after 4 years in Downtown Edgebrook, citing difficulties bouncing back from the pandemic, leaving the neighborhood with one business that serves alcohol — City’s Edge.
Peter and Kayla Lardakis opened the restaurant in May of 2019. Peter, a Chicago native, and Kayla, who grew up in Watford City, North Dakota, found a way to represent their roots by opening a business near their home in Sauganash.
Like the interstate for which it’s named, Dakota 94 connected Chicago’s bustling streets with North Dakota’s rolling plains. Owning and operating a business is never simple, the Lardakis family said. But nothing could’ve prepared the couple for what would come knocking at the door in March of 2020.
“Business was great until COVID,” Kayla Lardakis said, recollecting the lockdowns that year. “We lost a lot of good staff. That was the biggest problem. There was a string of bad luck.”
But the devastating restrictions on everyday businesses such as restaurants were no match for the ambitious Midwestern couple. Between commitment and a strong identity in the community, Dakota 94 attempted to reverse those difficulties and hung on for as long as it could. When they needed help, Edgebrook and Sauganash residents responded.
“Father’s Day (2020) we had a line down the block of to-go orders. We had so much support from people in the neighborhood,” Lardakis said.
At the height of the pandemic, the business offered no-contact pickup and doorstep delivery and sold liquor kits and family meal packs on its Web site. The restaurant also gave out free lunch boxes to kids in kindergarten through twelfth grades. It’s also been the go-to stop for many groups and politicians to hold meetings.
“We’d regularly get families whose kids went to school with our kids,” Lardakis said.
For now, the Lardakis family has set their eyes west. Having relocated to the Phoenix area, the couple owns and operates Badlands Bar and Grill in Tempe, AZ. Moreover, a second location in their new home of Queen Creek is on the way, according to the Queen Creek Tribune newspaper. They own other restaurants as well.
“It’s very difficult right now to find people to come to work and it’s not just the restaurant industry. I think that’s everywhere,” Lardakis told the newspaper in July. “Every time, I say hiring is the worst part of my job.”
The closing of Dakota 94 leaves the Devon-Central business district with one remaining restaurant, City’s Edge at 5310 W. Devon Ave., which has a full-service bar.
About 15 years ago petition drives were held to change parts of Edgebrook from “dry” to “wet” in order to attract more restaurants to the area, but several businesses that served liquor have closed. They are Mia Figlia, Moher and Al Primo Canto.
Many restaurants which do not serve alcohol continue to operate in Edgebrook.
On its Facebook page, the owners of Dakota 94 wrote:
“We have loved to serve the community every day, but after COVID, we struggled to stay afloat. We hung in there as long as possible to see if maybe things would turn around, but the time has come that we need to close the doors permanently.
“With a heavy heart, our last day open will be Sunday, October 8th, so stop by, have a drink, and say goodbye and treat yourself to a final Dakota 94 dinner or brunch. Visit your favorite servers past and present and send us off with a bang. It’s truly been an honor and a privilege being your local neighborhood restaurant…. It’s been a blast, and we will miss you all dearly.”