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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