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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published March 15, 2012                                                     

New businesses are blooming
in the village

Restaurant slated for Gateway Square and Verizon opening help offset loss of Gap stores

By Ken Knutson

   As the unseasonably warm temperatures stimulate outdoor activities, the arrival of new offerings to Hinsdale’s business community landscape is stoking confidence in the local economy.
   After several months working with officials in the village and Gateway Square, Fox’s Restaurant has signed a lease with the north side center to open a branch.
   Owner Frank Fox, whose parents opened the family’s original eatery in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood in 1963, said the restaurant chain is well known in the south suburbs, and he was ready to expand.
   “I’ve always wanted to go west,” he said. “I’ve always been looking for a location, and I always kept my eyes open.”
   The Gateway Square location emerged as a possibility about nine months ago, but there were some architectural and accessibility hurdles to overcome.
   Tim Scott, Hinsdale’s community development director, said everyone’s perseverance paid off.
   “We really worked hard to get this to work,” Scott said. “We were making sure that we can address their issues up front so there are no surprises and trying to be as hands-on as possible.”
   Fox said the restaurant will have an outdoor dining area and drive-up service so customers don’t have to park and walk if they’re getting take-out.
   Popular offerings on the menu include the roast beef, ribs and the “world-famous thin-crust pizza,” Fox said.
   “We’re casual comfort food,” he said. “I’m trying make it a little modern and, at the same time, traditional.”
   Scott believes Fox’s will be a nice complement to the north side business district and help boost Gateway Square activity, in particular.
   “The center will certainly benefit from having a new tenant in there to drive traffic in the afternoon and evening,” he said.
   If all goes according to plan, the restaurant is expected to open in the fall.
   Scott and Fox both said they have heard from a number of south suburban transplants in Hinsdale well-acquainted with the restaurant and eager for its opening.
   Fox said he’s even starting to feel like an unofficial Hinsdalean.
   “I feel like I’m a part of the community already because I’ve been out there so much,” he said.
   “It’s a really fun location. I hope it’ll be a nice convenience for the residents, and I hope they give us the opportunity (to serve them).”
   In the central business district, Verizon recently opened its doors at 36 E. Hinsdale Ave.
   Owner Bill Evans said the 5,700 square feet of space and large windows fit in well with the store’s vision.
   “We wanted to be inviting and open,” he said.
   While parents do their shopping, young gamers can enjoy playing X-box at the front of the store, while a play area in the back entertains the toddler set.
   In an effort to honor the lineage of their location, Evans said photos dating back to its days as the home of C. Foster Toys and a car dealership will be displayed on the walls.
   “Our whole idea was to connect the building to the past,” he said.
   Store manager Chris Williams, a Clarendon Hills native, said the community’s welcome has been heartening. He said his goal is to ensure customers feel as welcome when they enter the store and appreciate the convenience of being in the heart of town.
   “We’re here to make sure they have the best service and they don’t have to go anywhere else,” he said.
   Live displays allow patrons to familiarize themselves with the various phones and tablets offered. The store is eyeing a grand opening event some time in April and also plans to hold workshops to help people keep up with evolving technology.
   “We want people to get the maximum use out of their devices,” Evans said.
   On the downside, Scott said the closing of The Gap and GapKids, expected mid-year, is unfortunate. But with The Gap corporation’s decision to close stores nationally as part of its restructuring plan, the news was not unexpected.
   “It’s certainly a loss to town,” Scott said.
   But he noted a silver lining.
   “The good thing is that they’re both in wonderful locations and in nice building spaces.”
   He said overall, the signs indicate greater optimism among small business owners.
   “Our sales tax numbers have been tracking really favorably,” he said. “People are more interested in at least exploring the idea of expansion or start-ups.”
   But patience is key, he said, noting that it took nearly five years to connect Fox’s with its Gateway Sqaure spot.
   “Putting a space together at the right time doesn’t always line up, but there are more interested partners than there have been,” Scott said.





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