Mr. Beef and Pizza, 123 Harlem Ave., hosted a festive grand opening celebration on Saturday, June 26. The purveyor of house made Italian beef, pizza with parmesan tomato sauce, and fresh salads opened in the winter, but waited to celebrate its Forest Park debut under the summer sun. To bring a sense of fun, Nick Kollias, invited owners of colorful hot rods and pristine vintage cars to park in the spot’s generous lot.
Kollias and his wife Ioanna were joined by their business partners Peter and Kathy Kerasiotis to mark the occasion. Mayor Rory Hoskins and Congressman Danny K. Davis joined Laurie Kokenes, executive director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“We’ve brought in a restaurant destination for families, visitors, friends and residents with lots and lots of menu choices,” said Kollias. “We are happy and excited to be here.”
Kollias is no stranger to the local business scene. His family owns Petersen’s ice cream and Giordano’s Pizza in Oak Park as well as the Mr. Beef and Pizza location at 3917 N. Harlem Ave. in Chicago. In fact, Kollias pointed out a large percentage of the Chicago location draws business from the Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest area.
“Customers kept encouraging us to come closer. We were literally drawn here by our customer base,” said Kollias. “The build out of the property was extensive and the parking lot represents a real investment.”
Mr. Beef and Pizza naturally benefits from heavy traffic on Harlem and Kollias is clear that the year-long property renovation paid particular attention to creating enough space to divert traffic to the restaurant without disrupting traffic flow on the busy throughfare. The building itself benefitted from a total gut rehab. Owners kept only the exterior walls and brought in an excavator to dig out the floors to make room for a new plumbing system. The added drainage allows for daily deep cleanings without fear of flooding.
Most importantly Kollias wants Mr. Beef and Pizza to be a high value option in the local community. The business offers a free membership model where repeat customers can accumulate points to put toward free pizza. Membership also opens up a different buy-one-get deal every day of the week.
“Thursdays are becoming very popular because members get buy one get one free salads,” said Kollias. “Customers can mix and match different types of salads and some people buy four and enjoy them over a few days.”
The owners behind Mr. Beef and Pizza are grateful for the outpouring of support they have received from the Village of Forest Park as well as the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce.
“We are so fortunate to be in the Forest Park community,” said Kollias.