Mediterranean eatery approved for downtown space

Council vote paves the way for Falafel at 7314 Madison St.

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing reporter

A new restaurant is coming to Madison Street following Forest Park Village Council action Monday.

Falafel Restaurant will open at 7314 Madison after the village council unanimously approved a conditional use ordinance for a dine-in restaurant. The location formerly housed American Art Works and is also the original home of Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor.

Steve Glinke, director of public health and safety, said the restaurant is expected to serve Mediterranean cuisine. Although the ordinance cited a dine-in restaurant, he said carryouts are also expected to be available.

The Forest Park restaurant will be the second for owner Ibrahim Freah, who also runs North Avenue Falafel in Elmwood Park. The menu for the Elmwood Park location offers a wide variety of food, including salads, sandwiches and its namesake, which is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or both that is commonly served inside pita bread.

Glinke said conditional use approval is required for all restaurants. He also said no residents appeared at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the request.

"We're really happy with the mix," Glinke said, noting the many Irish and Italian restaurants already on Madison. "Informal feedback we've received is that people are excited it's coming." 

 

Grant approved, building
inspector hired

In other action, the village council approved applying for a police safety grant and allowing the hiring of a new building inspector.

By unanimous vote, the village council approved and ratified the mayor's signature on an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) public safety grant application.

Police Chief Tom Aftanas said the $18,548.28 grant, if received, would be used to fund traffic safety checks that are generally conducted around major holidays, such as the one held recently on Labor Day. 

He said the grant would be used to pay for one officer to conduct checks at random locations for a four-hour shift, primarily enforcing seat belt and cellphone use ordinances and looking for intoxicated drivers.

Aftanas said they have received the IDOT grant annually for years.

Also by unanimous vote, the village council authorized waiving the hiring freeze for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund employees in order to hire a building inspector.

Glinke explained that Bill Plum, the department's full-time senior inspector, has announced his intention to retire Oct. 15 after 11 years with the department. He will be replaced by another full-time employee, Glinke said. 

He said he is hopeful to have Plum's replacement hired before the retirement, but he noted that union rules require that the job be posted internally before it is advertised externally. 

Glinke's also hoping for some overlap that would allow the new inspector to shadow Plum for a while before he leaves.

If Plum leaves before his replacement is hired, Glinke would be the only inspector in the department. Glinke said he would perform fieldwork until the position is filled, adding Plum has indicated a willingness to stay on a little longer if needed. 

Glinke said Plum is a longtime Forest Park resident, which he said was an advantage in his position.

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