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Breakfast, lunch and beyond:New CoCo’s open for dinner

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 The New CoCo’s Restaurant is open and the PAGE-10-2-col-ownersKenny, Lu and Imo Asani have reopened CoCo’s Restaurant in Hickory Hills. Photo by Jeff Vorva.owners say they’re ready to offer family dining at reasonable prices in an area lacking that feature.
  The Hickory Hills restaurant, 9505 S. Roberts Road, reopened on March 5, nearly one year after the previous owners closed the doors.
  Kenny and Lu Asani, the restaurant’s new owners, believe they’ve made the necessary changes to make the restaurant a huge success.
  The duo is not short on experience.
  “I grew up in the restaurant business with my dad,” Lu Asani said.
  Kenny also came up in kitchen, working with family in all aspects of the food business since arriving from Macedonia.
  Kenny’s brother, Imo, and brother-in-law, Jimmy, also are involved in the day-to-day operation of the restaurant.
  The new owners did little to alter the appearance of the eatery other than to make some small changes to the entrance. A new pie case was added to display the restaurant’s wide variety of desserts.
  “We get a lot of compliments,” Lu Asani said.
  So far, the restaurant’s greatest challenge is to spread the word that it’s open for dinner until 10 p.m. The original CoCo’s Restaurant closed at 4 p.m.
  “It’s slowly progressing,” Lu Asani said. “I still get a lot of feedback from people who say, ‘I didn’t even you know you were open for dinner.’”
  The dinner menu is varied, featuring a wide selection of Greek cuisine, seafood, stir fry, steaks and chops and Italian dishes.
  Dinner selections come with homemade soup or salad, potato and rolls and dessert. Many dishes are less than $10, as the owners strive to offer affordable dining to community.
  Numerous club and croissant sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers and hot sandwiches also are available for lunch and dinner.
  CoCo’s also serves an extensive breakfast menu for every appetite.
  Pancakes, toast or biscuits and gravy are served with every egg dish.
  The breakfast menu also features Belgian waffles, crepes and numerous varieties of French toast, including red velvet, banana nut and cherry kijafa. Eggs benedict, omelets and skillet dishes round out the breakfast menu, which is served all day.
  The owners are hoping that the unique menu selections coupled with affordable prices will set them apart from the competition.
  “We have some dishes that are not offered at other restaurants around here,” Lu Asani said.
  CoCo’s is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and carry-out is available. The restaurant seats 220 people in three dining areas, which can easily accommodate large parties. For information, call 708- 634-2051.

Your next governor?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Wealthy Rauner takes aim at Quinn after primary win

This man is so rich, he not only DR-Page-1-COLOR-4-col-BRUUUCERepublican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner told a crowd in Hickory Hills Monday night that Pat Quinn was the “worst governor in America’’ during his rally. Photo by Jeff Vorva.has money to burn, he has money to buy fire departments.

Opponents have called him a “bazillionaire’’ although he says he is not even a billionaire.
But he has some cash.
Bruce Rauner spent a reported $6 million of his own dough on the campaign that wrapped up Tuesday night and that was only a primary. But he needed every penny in what turned out to be a close race.
Even before he dispatched Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford in the Republican Primary, the Winnetka venture capitalist took aim at seated governor Pat Quinn – his November opponent.
“We’re going to sweep Pat Quinn into the dustbin of history,” Rauner told a crowd estimated of 500 at the Lexington House in Hickory Hills on Monday night during his final rally before the election.
His speech was less than five minutes but it was full of Quinn bashing without a syllable directed to his primary foes. It was almost as if they didn’t exist. But Dillard made Rauner sweat a little Tuesday night after watching a double-digit percentage lead shrink to two percent at about 9:30 p.m.
During that time, Quinn was already running television commercials bashing Rauner so the mud started slinging at Rauner’s face before he could wipe the sweat off his brow.
But the man who wants to make big noise from Winnetka claimed victory an hour later as he had the unofficial two-DR-Page-1-color-1-col-signA gentleman dressed in a period costume was a part of the festivities at Lexington House in Hickory Hills Monday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva.percent lead with 97 percent of the precincts reporting.
It was closer win than expected. Dillard received crossover votes – Democrats voting on the Republican ballot -- in Democratic-heavy Chicago.
“There are some thoughtful Democrats out there,” Dillard told reporters at what he was hoping would be a victory party while he was inching closer to Rauner. “I welcome them.’’
But the night ultimately belonged to Rauner, who is vowing that he will be the next governor.
Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie threw his weight and Hosannas Rauner’s way late Tuesday night in a statement.
“It’s time to leave behind the days of high unemployment and job losses, skyrocketing taxes, unaccountable spending and failing schools that have blighted the last five years in Illinois under Pat Quinn,” Christie wrote. “Illinois is ready for a real leader: someone who can’t be bought or intimidated. Illinois is ready for a governor who is willing to solve the toughest of problems, not avoid them; for a governor who works to foster economic growth, not stifle it; for a governor who can balance a budget without saddling the taxpayers time and time again; for a governor who refuses to endure the persistent failure of government that has racked Illinois for years.”
Rauner took to the stage Monday night in Hickory Hills with the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” blaring on the PA system and well-dressed adults acting like kids at a rock concert yelling “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” 
“This is our year,” Rauner said. “This is our election. We’re going to sweep Pat Quinn into the dustbin of Illinois history. We’re going to turn our state around just like Indiana did and Wisconsin is being turned around and Michigan is being turned around. We are going to shake up Springfield and transform our state.’’
He was just getting warmed up.
“Pat Quinn is the worst governor in America,” Rauner said. “He has buried the people of Illinois. He is driving up our taxes. He is driving our employers out of the state. He’s driving our unemployment through the roof. He had defunded our schools.
“He is a failure. We are going to get him gone.’’
After the Quinn-essential bashing of the governor, Rauner got around to what he wants to accomplish if he gets the votes in November.
“We want to go to work for you,’’ Rauner said. “We want to do four things. No. 1, we want more jobs and a pro-business economy, No. 2, lower taxes and spending in Springfield, No. 3 great education and No. 4, term limits – eight years and out.’’
Not everyone was a Rauner fan that night.
Near the entrance of the Lexington House stood a handful of protesters who loudly booed any car that drove into the lot.
They had signs the said “Billionaire Bruce: I iz buying your state,” “Union yes, Rauner No’’ and “Rauner is a downer.’’
On the other side of the driveway, a guy wearing a period costume holding up a sign that said .01%ers for RAUNER! cheered as loud as he could as cars came while police kept an amused eye on the proceedings from a distance.
Quinn had an easier time with his opponent in the primary, beating Tio Hardiman by gobbling up 72 percent of the vote according to returns counted late Tuesday night.

Bury enjoys ‘beautiful numbers’ as OL votes for limits

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Oak Lawn voters spoke loud and clear Tuesday overwhelmingly approving a binding referendum that limits the terms a village board member can serve.
The referendum won by a landslide. With all of the village’s 41 precincts reporting, 4,691 voters, or 85 percent, supported the question, while 804 voters, 15 percent, voted against the measure. Only 16 percent of registered voters turned out but Mayor Sandra Bury wasn’t complaining.
“Aren’t the numbers beautiful?” Bury said Tuesday night. “I’m thrilled. Oak Lawn residents are awesome.”
Bury campaigned on term limits and said they will ensure that fresh faces assume positions in village leadership.
The term limits take effect after the April 2015 municipal election and limit to three the number of consecutive terms the mayor, village clerk and trustees can serve in a single position.
A trustee could run for clerk or mayor, for example, after serving three terms on the village board. The term limits do not apply to school districts or the park board.
Veteran trustees Bob Streit, Alex Olejniczak and Carol Quinlan as well as Village Clerk Jane Quinlan are still eligible to serve another three terms if they run for office again.
Opponents of terms limits argue that incumbents can be removed from office on Election Day. But Bury said defeating an entrenched incumbent is not easily accomplished at the local level where voter turnout is typically low.
“Not enough people are voting,” she said. “People have to get it out of the mindset that you’re in political office for life.”
She added that three terms is sufficient time for an elected official to make a difference.
“This is a reasonable way to proceed,” Bury said. “It’s set up to be forward-thinking. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Trustee Mike Carberry, a proponent of term limits, said the referendum’s success in Oak Lawn will serve a model for other communities.
“It’s good. It gets more people involved in the process,” said Carberry, a first-term trustee.
The village board voted 4-2 to place the referendum on the ballot. Trustees Carol Quinlan and Bob Streit, political opponents of the mayor, voted against the referendum. Streit was elected to the board in 1991 and is the longest serving trustee.

Two area buffets flame out

  • Written by Bob Rakow

The Flaming Grill Buffet has beenpage-1-color-3-col-flameThings were flaming hot when the Hibachi Grill and Grand Buffet opened up in December, 2012 in Orland Park. The Hibachi Grill and Chicago Ridge’s Flaming Grill closed earlier this month. extinguished for good.

Taking a page from the Robert Irsay playbook, the owners of the Chicago Ridge restaurant left town for good about two weeks ago without a word to anyone.
“They’re gone. They disappeared in the middle of the night,” Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar said. “It’s very peculiar.”
Irsay, the former owner of the Baltimore Colts football team, required a fleet of moving trucks in 1984 to move his team and its possessions out of the city under the cover of darkness to its current home in Indianapolis.
The Flaming Grill’s departure wasn’t quite so elaborate.
Tokar said he received a phone call from Chicago Ridge Commons management informing him that the embattled restaurant had closed.
“Can you believe it? After all the nonsense they put us through,” Tokar said.
While the Flaming Grill Buffet left the premises without reason, the Hibachi Grill and Grand Buffet in Orland Park was evicted in early March by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office for non-payment of rent, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.
A notice of code violation in the entrance window said Flaming Grill was cited for “nuisances regarding premises.” Specifically, the notice said, the restaurant had an overflowing dumpster and the area around the dumpster had to be cleaned.
But it seemed things were looking up for the Asian-American buffet in recent weeks, Tokar said.
Management apparently resolved the issues village health inspectors had raised in recent months, and the village board recently approved the business license transfer required when the restaurant changed hands.
The saga between the village and Flaming Grill, 101 Commons Drive, has gone on for several months. The village threatened to close the restaurant late last year after it did not pay several months’ worth of food and beverage taxes it owed the village. Restaurant owners also failed to appear at numerous village hearings regarding the taxes.
The sanitation issues were identified by village health inspector Rich Ruge who said he was concerned with the way the Flaming Grill has been conducting its day-to-day operations and ticketed the restaurant in January for some sanitation violations.
Ruge said he made a routine inspection on Jan. 15 and saw some things he didn’t like and gave the restaurant officials time to conform. But when he returned on Jan. 20, the restaurant was still “not following the best-case practice for Chicago Ridge.”
He wouldn’t get specific on what he saw but said “it was nothing severe that would cause us to close it down.’’ He said he identified some sub-par sanitation practices that required immediate attention. When he conducted a follow-up inspection, the restaurant had not rectified the problems and Ruge issued a ticket, he said.
The buffet, which served a mixture of Japanese and Chinese cuisine, opened in the former Old Country Buffet location. The restaurant also features American food, desserts and a hibachi grill.
Tokar said Chicago Ridge Commons management will attempt to fill the space, which might be difficult because it features three dining areas.
“It’s an opportunity for some restaurant to come in there,” the mayor said.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: (Heart) breaking news – I am older than this paper

 

jeff columnNOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Say it ain’t so!
Short of a loved one dying or getting sick, it doesn’t get much worse to hear news like this.
It was such a surprise – a depressing surprise.
I noticed that last week’s Reporter’s front page said Volume LV No. 1 on it. Hmmm. No. 1?
The genius reporter in me figured out that it must mean the paper may have celebrated a birthday.
So I used all of my investigative skills and resources (I asked around in the office) and publisher Amy Richards informed me that indeed the Reporter is now in its 55th year and just turned 54.
Upon deeper and more thorough investigation (Amy gave me a couple of special sections from 2005 and 2010 to look over) I discovered that the first Reporter came out March 16, 1960.
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!
I was born in December, 1959.
That means I’m older than this newspaper.
I’m older than a newspaper that some people have saidpage-3-2-col-with-jvcolA look at the cover of the first Reporter on March 16, 1960. The paper is heading into its 55th year but it is still a few months younger than its current editor. Photo by Jeff Vorva. “has been around a long time’’ and some people have said, gulp, “has been around forever.”
I knew I was older than some high schools.
I knew I was older than a handful of towns.
But older than a newspaper that’s “been around forever’’ is a true shock to my system.
There were two other times in my professional life when the ol’ time-is-speeding-by-too-fast realization hit me.
The first time was when I covered a high school softball game and asked the coach for a roster. This particular roster happened to have the birthdates of all the players on it. They were all born after I graduated high school.
The second time came when Lincoln-Way football coach Rob Glielmi retired in 2007. This is a coach who won an Illinois High School Association Class 6A state championship in 1997 and played football at Illinois.
I remember him for messing up his name when he was a kid.
I was just starting my newspaper career as a sportswriter in the late 1970s and, to my knowledge, might have been the first person whose name I botched up in the paper. Hey, the Internet wasn’t around to double check and I thought it was “Gliemi.’’
Anyway, back then he was a young defensive player for Lincoln-Way and I’m sure more than one dopey writer forgot to drop that second L into his name.
Now I find out I am older than a long established newspaper.
Wow.
Most papers I worked for were born around the time my grandfathers, great grandfathers, not-so-great grandfathers and great, great grandfathers were walking the earth.
Oh, well. Time to put away the self-pity and to try to make issue Volume LV No. 2 – and future issues – of the Reporter as compelling and fun as we can around here.
Happy birthday, Reporter, and may we all live on for many, many years.

Wisdom from the past
The guy who first ran the Reporter, Edward E. Roelofs, wrote his Publisher’s Statement of Policy 54 years ago about his brand-spankin’ new paper.
Among his comments were: “The publisher and his staff present it with hope that you, the reader, will find it meets for needs for an unbiased, scrupulously accurate, friendly and complete newspaper covering local people, organizations and events.”
He also said: “We want you to LIKE our paper – and to be proud it is circulated in your area.’’
Those thoughts ring true for us today.