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Oak Park Avenue Business Booms During Cruise Night Kick-off

Every Tuesday through August, classic cars will roll into the village to "strut their stuff" in downtown Tinley Park. The summer-long event kicked off Tuesday.

Business owners welcomed with open arms Tuesday, as thousands flocked downtown to scope out classic cars, chat with friends and of course, populate the many storefronts along the way.

"This is a great thing for the people of ," said Al Martino, 33, whose father, Tony, owns . "We've been lucky. Tinley's been good to us."

The locally owned mom-and-pop pizza shop has been on Oak Park Avenue for 34 years, Martino said. During the first year of Cruise Nights in 2011, employees began selling pizza by the slice and refreshments. They were doing so Tuesday, as well. 

More than 200 cars were parked along the avenue, in downtown lots and at the , said Trustee Brian Maher, chair of the village's Public Safety Committee.

"(Cruise Night) really is a great idea," Martino said. "It definitely helps boost business."

manager Annie Rozhon said she couldn't agree more. She estimates that Tuesday night business nearly doubled as a result of the event last year. She expects this year to be the same, if not better.

"It's a very calm and serene crowd on Tuesday nights for the car shows," she said, standing beside the Durbin's beer garden where the majority of tables were occupied. "People very much enjoy it and even after the sun goes down, more people come in. They're just sitting and relaxing."

The restaurant caters to the Cruise Night crowd, offering $2 domestic beers, $3 Coronas and $4 margaritas to help wash down $1 tacos. Rozhon said Tuesday's have easily become her favorite work day.

"Tables are flipping well tonight," she said, complimenting the 's seamless organization of the event. "It's nice to share this with our neighboring businesses. We are very much a family on Oak Park Avenue."

Though isn't on the Cruise Night route—it's located north of 167th Street on Oak Park Avenue—owners and staff show to promote their business and mingle with friends.

They parked a red, classic Pontiac with a Heather Haus decal adorning the side. This year, they'll be awarding one T-shirt every Tuesday to the "Classic Car of the Week," as chosen by the owner.

The winner of the first shirt? Jim Andel, 65, of Orland Park, who stood proudly beside his shiny red 1929 Ford Model A. He removed the flame-embellished hood so passersby could admire the pristine engine underneath it.

"I love this," he said, adding that he attended every Cruise Night last year. "It's just fun to see people. I run into people here that I went to high school with, and that was 45 years ago!"

Tinley Park officials gave the final OK Tuesday night to . They will go into effect next week. 

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Did you stop in downtown Tinley Park on Tuesday night? Tell us in the comments.

Deb Melchert June 06, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Carrie, Heather's Haus Florist is going to create a photo album of our Classic Car of the Week winner and when Cruise Nights come to an end, we're going to let our Facebook fans vote for their favorite. When they votes are tallied, they will present the fan's choice with a $50 floral arrangement.

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