While Skokie officials and the West Dempster business district, they are likely pleased with the start of three new businesses in the latter area since
Opening side-by-side are Papa John’s Pizza and Sinbad Persian Rugs. Three blocks west, in a new gas station on the northeast corner of Dempster and Gross Point Road, a Krispy Krunchy chicken franchise has recently opened, with plans to expand to the adjoining storefront next year.
Putting the greatest financial commitment into the businesses was Anosh Bolbolan, who said he has sunk $5 million in personal assets into his carpet stock at Sinbad. He said he was unable to obtain a bank business loan in spite of what he termed solid personal equity.
“It’s a good business,” said Bolbolan, who previously operated a Persian rug outlet in Arizona. He opened Sinbad in early October. “I think it’s good [location]. This is a good place. It’s coming back. It’s a matter of time.”
Kaufman’s new neighbor
Bolbolan even has extended a good-neighbor policy to Kaufman’s,
“We’re good friends,” he said. “They can use part of my property, the basement [as an office]," Bolbolan said. "They don’t have heat and electricity.”
Bolbolan has additional stock in the basement. He terms his rugs “100 percent Persian.”
Just after Sinbad next door is Papa John’s, 4711 W. Dempster. Diptesh Desai holds the local franchise rights for Papa John’s, covering all of Skokie, Lincolnwood and parts of Morton Grove and Niles. He desired a central location on main streets to speed deliveries.
“I knew the area,” Desai said. “It’s a good location near the Yellow Line. People call ahead, get off the train and pick up their pizza. There’s also a lot of apartments nearby so the population [and potential customers] is bigger. I looked into the Old Orchard area, but the rent was too high. And Papa John’s preferred a store on Dempster.”
A winning Bears season plus college football on Saturdays has made weekends busy for Papa John’s in its first month.
“They’re still getting to know us,” said employee Mario Contreras. He rates the six-cheese pizza the best. A top seller is “the works” – toppings of pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives.
Louisiana based chain opens its first store in Chicagoland
Meanwhile, six-year Skokie resident Salim Kadri said he has settled into his growing business, from selling $900-a-day in restaurant fare to $1,600 at Krispy Krunch chicken. It is the first local outlet of the Louisiana-based chain just making its entrance into the Chicago-area market.
“The first week was phenomenal,” Kadri said. “We’re going to start [serving] pizza and sandwiches, and then breakfast. We plan a dine-in area [next door] with eight tables, with ice cream and a salad bar.”
Kadri, who has worked for and Subway outlets in Chicago, said he looked at downtown before settling on the storefront. He does not have nearby fried-chicken store competition, further promoting his choice of location. A Kentucky Fried Chicken moved out years ago at Main Street and Skokie Boulevard.
“The Skokie [location] was my first priority,” he said, adding he is also optimistic about the area’s business future.
The opening of the three businesses, plus the 2012 start-up of an store at the southwest corner of Dempster Street and Skokie Boulevard, is a reversal of the steady exodus of retail outlets and vacating of offices from the area surrounding the Yellow Line station in years past.
The village has control of two parcels of vacant property just east of the station for future redevelopment. Empty strip malls on the parcels were torn down. Proposals for the properties included condo/apartment projects, but the poor economy has put any progress on hold. Yet the influx of new businesses on West Dempster would make it appear that Skokie is on the right track.