The empanadas at Tapas 7232 restaurant on Madison St. in Forest Park kept Jef Anderson, co-owner of Yearbook, coming back again and again. The restaurant held a standing-room-only grand “re-opening” Oct. 4 sporting a new look made possible by one of their favorite customers.

“It’s a great place to get food and I really saw the potential there,” he said last week. “The empanadas are really delicious.”

As an example of the camaraderie felt by the merchants of Madison Street in Forest Park, Anderson said he wanted to help the restaurant where he got his favorite Spanish treats get more of a buzz locally.

Anderson designs interiors for commercial and residential spaces, as well as web sites. He’s also designed a logo for Madison Street neighbors American Artworks Gallery, 7314 Madison St.

“Tapas 7232 were coming up on their first anniversary, and I really saw the potential there for a change in look.” So Anderson offered to help give the restaurant a makeover for their first birthday, pro bono.

Anderson said the bar/restaurant had a problem narrowing down their identity and he was happy to step in.

“They were sort of a sports bar, sort of a tapas place, and they had live music. It was a design challenge, because it was really on a shoestring budget.”

The new decor was unveiled Oct. 4: a modern hip look with a nod to the early jazz era of the 1920s and 30s, Anderson said, complete with vintage seating and photos of jazz musicians on the wall – some donated by Yearbook.

The new logo features the curvy body of a string bass, along with lettering Anderson describes as “pre Art Deco, more from the Edwardian era.” The restaurant has new menus and a new sign out front, hand painted by Anderson’s friends A & A Studios in Chicago.

One of the best results of the makeover was the restaurant’s new lighting and how welcoming it looks at dinner time.

“It’s really pleasing at night,” Anderson said.

Before the party, shops on Madison Street handed out flyers promoting the celebration.

“Yearbook studios made our vision become a reality,” Manager Amy Storey posted on Facebook. “Without [Yearbook] this night would not have been such a success.”

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘Thank You’ it will be enough,” she said.

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...