Marion Street Grille, a dining destination in downtown Oak Park for nearly two decades, will close its doors in early August, owner Terry Thulis says.
Thulis said on July 28 that after running the steak and seafood restaurant since 1995, it was time to “take a break and move on.” He cited the economic downturn as a main factor in the decision to close, explaining that the restaurant’s recovery had been too slow, while the village’s dining market continues to grow.
“We’re just not getting enough coming through the door,” he said.
The restaurant, a dinner-only establishment offering a classic continental menu, is a favorite among residents and local celebrities alike: Thulis named George Wendt (who played Norm on “Cheers”) and actor John Mahoney among those who frequented Marion Street.
But the backbone of the restaurant’s clientele, said Thulius, was the regulars. He cited one local man who dined at the restaurant “every Thursday, every other Saturday and every New Years Eve.”
“That’s the kind of loyalty that we’ve experienced from many others in the Oak Park and River Forest community,” said Thulius.
Thulius credited the quality of his restaurant’s fare to suppliers such as Gold Star Seafood, a Chicago wholesaler that made deliveries to Marion Street every day except for Sunday.
The restaurant solidified its status in 2012, when it became the subject of a coveted review by WTTW’s “Check Please!” But despite its strong following, the restaurant’s financial pressures outweighed the profits, said Thulius. The competition has also mushroomed; since Marion Street first opened, the number of restaurants in Oak Park grew from 8 to 30 establishments, he said.
Thulis, an Oak Park resident, got his start in the business when, after returning from the Marines, he opened the Orphanage Saloon in St. Louis at the age of 23.
As to his future plans, Thulis said wasn’t sure what he’ll do after closing Marion Street, only that he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, local massage shop owner Diana Ostreko.
But one thing was for sure: Closing Marion Street Grille — a restaurant that “didn’t need to advertise, because of word of mouth,” Thulis said — would be a heartbreaker.
“It’s sad to see this one go, but it appears to be time to move on,” he said.
The restaurant is set to close on August 9.