The choo-choo train rolled along the tracks for the last time Saturday afternoon at Snackville Junction.
The iconic restaurant, a staple in Evergreen Park after years in Chicago’s Beverly community, closed its doors for the final time because its owners were unable to workout mortgage refinancing with the bank.
The Kedzie Avenue diner didn’t look like much from the outside, but inside children watched in delight as hamburgers and hot dogs were delivered on a choo-choo train that traveled out of the kitchen on a set of tracks mounted to the counter.
That train took several trips on Saturday as patrons made a final journey to the restaurant, which they described as unique and a one-of-a-kind. The food was good and kids could be kids, playing with toy trains while waiting for their meals.
Sadly, those experiences weren’t enough to save the restaurant. The owners were unable to work out an extension on a balloon mortgage that had come due. The bank wanted its money, and Snackville Junction apparently didn’t have it.
It’s easy to blame the bank, but lending institutions are in business to make money. Snackville Junction’s owners knew the terms of the mortgage when they agreed to them, although the last few years have been tough on small businesses of all kinds.
The demise of the Snackville Junction is disappointing, however. Its closing means there’s one less unique, family-owned business in the area that caters to families. A place where the owner knows your name and has put his or her heart and soul into the place.
There’s plenty of play lands at McDonald’s and Burger King and lots of corporate-owned bowling alleys and movie theaters dotting the landscape. There are endless places to play mini-golf or laser tag, jump on trampolines and race go-karts. But few are locally owned joints with a stake in the community.
You’ve heard this mantra before, but support your local businesses, especially the ones that you and your families have enjoyed for years. Do it before they become the next Snackville Junction.