As residents of Frankfort, the owners of Little Joe's Famous Pizza, which has locations in New Lenox and Tinley Park, have always wanted to open an eatery in the village.
Although it's taken longer than they had hoped, setting up a pizza place in their hometown will soon become a reality.
The Village Plan Commission recommended Thursday the approval of special use permits for outdoor dining and a liquor license for a Little Joe's location in the Crown Center Building on Lincoln Way Lane in the storefront that formerly housed Smooth Joe's Cafe. The Frankfort Village Board now needs to give final approval.
"I'm excited you guys are coming," said Commissioner John Newton. "I've always enjoyed your food."
The Frankfort location will, obviously, be serving pizza, but customers at the new restaurant shouldn't expect to find all the same menu items they enjoy at Little Joe's other spots, said owner Sue Vasquez in an interview Thursday after the Plan Commission meeting.
"It's a different Little Joe's experience," said Gerardo Vasquez, manager of the Frankfort restaurant and Sue's son. "We've had to cut down the menu because of the size [of the new location]."
The Frankfort's Little Joe's will be smaller than the other locations, which means it will be cultivating a larger delivery and carry-out business, Gerardo said. But the location will still have a full dining room that will seat 25 people, Sue added. The seasonal outdoor seating will accommodate another 20 diners. There's also an outside common area next to the restaurant with tables and charts that customers can use.
Gerardo said he also wants to try some new and different menu options, including gluten-free items, which are available at the New Lenox and Tinley locations, as well as organic and Vegan and vegetarian dishes. Although it will start out by only serving lunch and dinner, the Frankfort restaurant might serve the breakfast crowd eventually, Gerardo said.
An opening day hasn't been officially set yet, but Gerardo said they're hoping to be up and running by the end of September. Ideally, they wanted to be open for Frankfort Fall Festival, but they are still not finished with remodeling, Sue said. In fact, that remodeling has taken almost a year as workers have been navigating some of the difficulties of putting a pizza joint in that location, she added.
But once the renovations are finished, Little Joe's will finally have a location that's always been a comfortable fit.
"We really want this place to have a community feel to it," Sue said. "We love this community."
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