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A new restaurant is coming to the former site of the Harrison Street Café at 7330 Harrison St.

Forest Parkers Greg and Sarah Houhoulis bought the business in December and are remodeling for a late-March opening date, Sarah Houhoulis said. The couple and their investors have spent three years looking for a site and this is the ninth spot they considered, she said.

“We’ve had quite a bit of foot traffic of people coming home from the el and peeking in the windows,” she said.

 The restaurant will be called Amelia’s. (Sarah’s middle name). Houhoulis says the menu will be moderately priced American cuisine (around $7.50 for a hamburger) made with locally-sourced organic ingredients. Husband Greg has 15 years of work as a chef in Chicago, Boston, Portland, Denver and California. The two met at Nola’s Cup, a short-lived Creole restaurant in Oak Park. They have a three-month old son.

A big change for the dining spot will be no more early morning hours during the week.  Breakfast will be a weekends-only event. Otherwise, Amelia’s will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. Sarah says she hates to disappoint the regulars who’ve been “coming here for coffee at 6 a.m. for 30 years” but staffing costs for those hours would be too high, she said.

Right now the couple are remodeling, moving out some equipment and giving the inside a facelift. The restaurant seats 80. “We’ll have all new tables and chairs,” she said. No tablecloths, though. “This is a family, casual atmosphere.”

Menu items will include, “some really good Boston clam chowder,” she says.  “We’ll have gumbo every once in a while. Mostly good, simple American food like fried chicken, fish and steak.” No alcohol will be served as of yet. “It’s hard to get a liquor license in Forest Park. We’d love to have a liquor license,” she said. Desserts will feature cobblers, a molten-chocolate cake and homemade ice cream.

Houhoulis hopes the location near the park will entice families for post-sports meals. “It’ll be nice in the summertime after a baseball game or day at the pool.” She’s putting hope in the park district’s eventual Roos Building redevelopment. “We’ve got parking and we’ll need to be a destination since we’re not on Madison Street,” she said. “We have to draw crowds.” She added that a contract for delivery with Grub Hub was in the works.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...