Updated Feb. 28, 2012 1:30 p.m.
All aboard! The Junction, a train-themed family restaurant will open in the former Two Fish Art Glass space at 7401 Madison St., this summer. The restaurant was dreamed up by parents-of-toddlers Brad Wahl and Kate Crawford Wahl of Riverside. Kate grew up in Forest Park. The diner will provide seating for up to 77 customers.
“We’re anticipating a grand opening around the Fourth of July,” said Brad Wahl.
According to Wahl, the restaurant will be a family-oriented diner, and food will be delivered to the main bar via a model train.
“There’s actually a guy who designs and installs these train delivery systems,” said Wahl. “They have to be very reliable. He also does the model train displays at Chicago Lincoln Park Conservatory.
“There will also be an interactive display area with another model train and local landmarks, where kids can push buttons and ring bells, lift gates and blow horns,” he said.
Wahl hopes to serve wine and beer.
“Alcohol will curb some of the sanity of the adults,” said Wahl.
Wahl says similar train-delivery restaurants such as Two Toots Train Whistle Grill in Glen Ellyn and All Aboard Diner in Downers Grove draw a wide reach of customers from all over the area.
“We’re going to promote this outside the community. You’d be surprised at the areas [other train-theme restaurants] pull from,” said Wahl. “Forest Park is such a great location to the city. We’re hoping parents will make it a destination. Like Chuck E. Cheese without the scary rat.”
Wahl says the restaurant will be open between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. The menu will start kid-friendly, initially, with burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and wraps, Wahl said. They hope to expand to a wider menu as time goes on. They also hope to add a party room.
Wahl’s father is a model train enthusiast and Wahl expects to get lots of railroad-themed dcor items from friends and family.
“The space is a former bank building with beautiful dentil crown molding and plaster pillars. We don’t want to clutter it up too much,” said Wahl.
The Wahls have three children under age 4 and have lived in Riverside for two years. “We have lots of family in Forest Park,” Wahl said. “My mother-in-law, Barb Crawford, grew up here and she’s supporting us and we’ll need a lot of that. I’ve for a long time aspired to bring a small business to Forest Park. We’ll hopefully be handing out promotional items at the St. Patrick’s Parade (March 10).”