Oak Park Greek restaurant moving across street to former nightclub site
The space once occupied by the Velvet Rope nightclub, shown here after an arson fire gutted it last year, will be home to a new incarnation of Papaspiros Greek Taverna, which is moving from the other side of Lake Street. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:19AM
OAK PARK — From misfortune can arise opportunity. The site of Oak Park’s Velvet Rope -- a gay nightclub formerly at 728 Lake St. and gutted by fire on June 3 -- will be new digs for Spiro Papageorge, the restaurateur who owns Papaspiros Greek Taverna across the street at 733 Lake St.
Though a village official said Thursday nothing formal was in place for a new business to enter the site, Papageorge confirmed he has entered into a five-year lease and plans to open his new restaurant this spring.
“We are moving to a new location,” he said. “It’s been 15 years of a good experience for everyone in this building.”
The new restaurant, still unnamed, will be a joint venture of Papageorge and two partners, who are opting to remain anonymous. One of whom lives in Evanston, Papageorge said.
“We were contemplating moving to Evanston but under a lot of pressure from the village and our customers, we will be staying here. We are very happy to be staying in Oak Park,” Papageorge said. “It was a down-to-the-wire decision.”
For encouragement to stay, Papageorge thanked the Village of Oak Park, the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce, MB Financial Bank in River Forest and Mike Fox, owner of the building at 733 Lake St.
“We are going to do some changes on the dishes and bring in a new chef from Athens, Greece,” at the new location, Papageorge said. “We’re going to change the menu a little bit and offer Greek-style tapas, like they do in Greece, as well as our traditional menu. This is a new experience for us.”
Papageorge added that he and his partners are considering holding a restaurant naming contest among customers.
Papaspiros Greek Taverna has been mentioned by food reviewers for the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, ABC-TV Chicago and other media, according to the its Web site. The current restaurant specializes in authentic Greek cuisine and offers banquets and catering.
The Velvet Rope fire, deemed arson by police, is still under investigation.