Forest Park’s Junction Diner, the long-awaited children’s train-themed restaurant, opens this weekend at 7401 Madison St.
Twenty-four area youngsters have already dined on chicken nuggets – delivered by model railroad – at a “test run” birthday party last week, said owner Brad Wahl.
“It was pretty crazy,” he said of the event. “The kids each got a cupcake for the birthday. They started to clap when the train rolled out of the kitchen.”
The restaurant seats around 40 at the train-bar, where an electric engine pulls seven plastic baskets along “G gauge” rugged outdoor-quality tracks.
The former bank site, previously inhabited by Two-Fish Art Glass, has been completely remodeled, with a skylight and cornices with dentil molding.
The restaurant commissioned an interactive model railroad with 10 different buttons. The buildings on the model will represent landmarks in Forest Park.
Along with chicken nuggets and burgers, Wahl said he has added menu items that are parent-friendly: with pot roast, hummus with vegetables, salads and wraps.
Junction Chef Jody Andre formerly owned Briejo restaurant in Oak Park on Harrison Street until a building facade collapse closed the restaurant.
“We are adding whole wheat when we can,” Andre said. The mac and cheese has whole-wheat pasta. The chicken nuggets are baked.
“We’re planning baked and gluten-free options,” she added. “The meals will all have fruit available and we’re focusing on items like hand-cut fries.”
Wahl demonstrated his foot-operated train whistle. “It gets loud in here,” he said. “I might have to get some sound baffles.”