Published April 15, 2010
Local eateries nourish community's
Retail store owners bring expertise, high standards and
friendly atmosphere to their shops
The ingredients that make up
the bond between a local dining establishment and its
patrons are all natural, according to Hinsdale’s
Good food and friendly service
are musts, they say, but there’s an organic emotional
component that also ripens along the way.
Chuck Page, owner of Page’s
Restaurant, said the relationship resembles a close
friendship more than a business transaction.
“We know something about their
families, their kids,” Page said.
Regular customers are greeted
by name, and their preferred menu selection is stored in
the memory banks of the wait staff.
“Half the time, the girls just
write down the order; they don’t even have to ask,” he
This year marks the 30th
anniversary of the cozy diner, which reflects its
throwback charm through historic Hinsdale photos on the
wall and the U-shaped counter that is the site of a
veritable town hall meeting each morning.
Gathering at Page’s early in
the a.m. for discourse on current events and sporting
news is a daily ritual for the largely male clientele.
Whenever the topic of renovation comes up, one item is
“They tell me, ‘Make sure you
still have the horseshoe counter,’ ” Page said.
When former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole
made a campaign stop at Page’s as part of the
presidential race in 2000, one of the restaurant’s
regulars saw a photo of the event in a newspaper while
on business in Germany.
After returning home, the man
told Page he swelled with hometown pride when he saw it.
“His first reaction was, ‘Bob
Dole’s sitting in my seat,’ ” Page said.
Being in a community for three
decades means grieving when a long-time customer passes
away. It also means celebrating as families grow.
“Some families, I’ve had four
generations come in here. When kids come in, they can’t
screw off because they know we know their parents,” Page
said with a chuckle.
Consistency is a major
component of Giuliano’s Ristorante’s success, according
to manager Chrissy Murray, both in the continuity of the
staff and in knowing what’s on the menu.
“(Our customers) are familiar
with most of the faces here,” she said. “We put out a
consistent product. People know what they order is what
they’re going to get.”
Murray, who has worked at the
restaurant for 10 years, said the employees and
customers have a special connection. The small town
environment and local ownership help create the shop’s
unique, close-knit flavor.
“We can ask each other, ‘How
was your weekend?’ or ‘How was your spring break?’ ” she
said. “We know you by name when you come in here.”
At Giuliano’s, the aim is to
be a place for all ages, Murray said.
“We predominantly cater to
families. We felt that’s what the town was missing,” she
said. “Kids can color at the table, and we have a kids’
Ensuring that positive dining
experiences are the standard, Murray said the staff
never rests on its laurels.
“It’s all about customer
service. If you’re not happy, we want to know about it.
How can we make it better for you next time?” she said.
Hua Ting has been satisfying
local appetites for 16 years, and hostess Esther Chu has
been greeting its patrons almost from the beginning.
Chu said it is gratifying when
former residents who have relocated make it a point to
stop in when they’re in town.
“Some people have moved to
other states. When they come back to visit, they want to
come to the restaurant to eat,” she said.
She, too, has seen young
couples become young parents, then evolve into parents
“We’ve seen all of these kids
grow from little ones to high school,” she said. “They
send us Christmas cards.”
A common theme among
restaurant owners and workers is maintaining an
enjoyable work environment. That quality, said Zak’s
Place owner Yamandu Perez, permeates every aspect of the
“We take our food and wine
seriously. We just don’t take ourselves too seriously.
We’re goofy,” he said.
Attention to service means any
member of the wait staff is ready to meet diners’ needs,
and Perez makes sure he is as visible as possible.
“We’re one of the few restaurants that you will be helped by almost
every single person working here. If you’ve been here
and you don’t know who I am, then it was my day off,” he
A call comes from someone
hoping to make a reservation on Sunday, the one day
Zak’s Place is closed. So Perez referred the caller to a
rival restaurant down the street.
“I think Hinsdale first. I
want them to come here,” Perez said, pointing to a table
display of business cards from village stores and a vase
for showcasing flowers from a local florist. “I’m all
for keeping people in town.”
He said people have likened
the restaurant to the iconic “Cheers” from the popular
sitcom, a comparison he takes pride in.
“We want this to be a place
where you feel like you belong, so it almost feels like
your own little club,” Perez said. “It’s the personal
That personal touch also
helped Page outlast initial predictions that his
restaurant would close in six months. Today, many would
say it and neighboring eateries are essential parts of
the village’s character.
“I’m just a business owner trying to make a living and trying to
give a good product to the customers,” Page said. “And
you get a smile, too.”