By Jean Lotus
The new Madison Park Kitchen, at 7525 Madison St. in Forest Park, is a family affair.
Owners Niko Doulas and Marigo Doulas are first cousins, the second generation of a Greek restaurant family whose fathers were in the restaurant business together for 35 years.
"We want to keep the tradition alive but start something new, with new ideas," said Niko. The restaurant has been open about two weeks. Marigo's brother, Nick Doulas, also works at the restaurant. The eatery is open for breakfast and lunch.
An accountant by training, Niko said he grew up helping at the two family restaurants, the Archway Café, Archer and Narragansett avenues near Midway Airport in Chicago, and Koko's Café in Hickory Hills.
The new generation of Doulas family members has decided to modernize the Chicago-style family restaurant concept. It started with a remodel and a revamped menu. The baked apple pancake is a traditional throwback that's been a family specialty for 40 years, Doulas said. But Madison Park also offers gluten-free and whole grain options.
The eatery's slogan is: "The highest quality food with ultimate freshness," Niko said.
The cousins have experimented with flavor combos: bacon, watermelon and avocado appear as ingredients in wraps, burgers and salads. The signature "MPK burger" is topped with a fried egg and two types of cheese. The restaurant offers five different eggs benedict options, including one with portobello mushrooms instead of English muffins.
For the decadent breakfaster, there's also a Nutella-filled crepe with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
With entrees costing $8-10, the prices are slightly higher than the restaurant's predecessor, Thyme and Honey. There is a lower-priced traditional breakfast section with eggs and ham, pancakes, sausages, and biscuits and gravy on the menu for $6.50.
Soups are made fresh daily from scratch, Niko said.
So far, opening the business has gone smoothly, he said.
"We love Forest Park and people here couldn't be more welcoming," he said.
His father and uncle are retired now, but the older generation stops by to give encouragement to the newest chapter in the family restaurant legacy.
"We didn't forget where we come from," Niko said. "But we want to spice it up and take it to the next level."