After Remodel, Olympic Star Diners Find Love All Over Again

Besides an updated interior, the Tinley Park favorite now features new menu items. Patch spent time last week chatting with longtime customers, including a pair of love birds, who have created more than just memories at the restaurant.

 resident Kanella Signore found love more than 30 years ago at  when she met her husband.

And upon re-entering the beloved local venue last week , she fell in love all over again. Now a hostess, she said she couldn't believe the transformation. The parking lot has been refinished, the ketchup has been scrubbed off the inside bricks and the fireplace—which now beckons cocoa drinking customers—has been updated.

"We wanted a fresh look," owner Gerry Garbis said. "This place needed some serious updating. The last time it was touched, was maybe a little back in the 1980s."

Have you been to the remodeled restaurant?

Diners walking in the door today are greeted by crisp carpeting and an unrecognizable lobby area. Garbis is pleased with the new-age look.

"We did a fresh remodel, adding some stone to the walls and moved the bar back so people can actually see us," he said. "There are new chairs, fresh booths, tables and new granite counter tops. "

This is a far cry from the iconic eatery where residents have come for years whether on a date, getting together with friends or ordering breakfast after an all nighter at the bar.

"Our plans are to still be open 24 hours except for Monday night," Garbis said. "The menu has changed a little bit. We took out some stuff and added others. For the first time ever, we now have saganaki! It's been a hot seller."

Among those greeted by a cheerful Kanella last week were regular customers Walter Wasel and Marilyn Bill, of , who were gushing about the whole scene.

"We're very thrilled they're open again; we think they did a beautiful job in here," Marilyn said.

The couple had guests in tow from Atlanta, Ga., who commented not specifically on the change in scenery, but the yummy food.

"We came right away on Monday when they opened the doors." Marilyn said. "We come here and get good gyros. It's not only that but the friendships here. It's also the service, seeing the regulars and the owners. We like to know the people, that's why we like Tinley Park. This is home."

As Garbis continued to greet his customers, he looked fondly back on his decision years ago to buy out the restaurant's previous four owners. There have surely been ups and downs, he said, but it's all been worth it. 

"When the (Illinois smoking) ban went through, it slowed down for everybody with this type of restaurant," he said, noting that the ban had a particula impact on 24-hour businesses. "We're looking to pick it back up. We still want to add a patio."

Kanella's husband, Joe, was also among those visiting the restaurant. He reminisced about the day he met his better half, smiling all the way.

"Friends were trying to fix us up," he said. "I didn't want any part of any woman at that time. They brought me to Olympic Star to ask her out, this was 1989. Finally I agreed and she agreed, we had a drink together and the next thing you know, I was married! We've been together ever since."

Kanella said she never could have predicted the joy the longtime Tinley hotspot would bring her. But she looks forward to the surprises that lie ahead.

"He turned out to be the best dish," she said, giving her husband a wink.

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Harry Callahan June 22, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I' ll second that Donna,they might not be perfect all the time,but they have always been nice to us for many years,good luck to them.Note: As a non-smoker this is one buisness that took a hard hit from the non-smoking policy advocates,yes! these are the same head in the ask people who put obama in the WH.
Carol August 17, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I've been to the remodeled place twice now. The first time we were also given a $5 credit because we waited a long long time for our fried chicken. The second time the waitress never came to check on us for refills and forgot our soup. My husband is the one who always wants to go there...I've always found it dirty. It is cleaner now but they took away the one reason it was reasonable....pop used to be included in the a la carte price. I'll stick with Southfork in the future for this kind of dining experience.
Harry Callahan August 17, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Hey Carol, when OS was closed my wife and I went to Southfork,I'll take the new OS anytime over Southfork,your paying $3 to $4 over what OS charges thats why you get drinks with it and not charged,also if you live in Tinley and your spending your cash in Orland well Carol you might have to close down and people like you will be throwing trash talk at you.what goes around comes back around,maybe go down to Coopers Hawk and you might be glad you still have a family restaurant around,and one more thing when ordering fried chicken Carol give it about 30 mins,no matter were you go except KFC,Browns,or Popeyes.
Carol August 17, 2012 at 10:17 PM
@Harry, I realize Southfork is more expensive but I'm just saying a big part of the value of OS for me was that the pop came with, now it doesn't. Also, I realize there is always a 30 minute wait for chicken, this wait was almost an hour...we didn't complain...management just gave us the $5 credit which was nice...One more thing, when Nick used to be involved with OS the dessert included cake or pie. When we went there while he was on vacation the waitress told us that when his brother is in charge it is strictly ice cream or rice pudding. Now, that is the only dessert that comes with the meal. Just another little thing that puts me off. The Patch asked for opinions on the place, this is mine. I'm glad you like it there. To each his own.
Harry Callahan August 18, 2012 at 12:39 AM
@Carol,no problem,My wife and I are glad OS came back,but I myself have my doubts that they will survive,I do believe that when you leave your regulars go it can come back and bite you,I also believe OS replaced their cooks,I was told that and the first couple of times I thought that it was true,I think things have gotten smoother.I was a big fan of Golden Bowl when we first came out here,but I seen that place almost change overnite,Restaurants are a hard buisness I seen many become a gold mine,and that same gold mine I seen become a dead business.OS had a big smokers group,when the laws changed it just brought them to their knees along with others.Now at OS there is one owner Jerri and I wish him well,time will tell.


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