Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is returning to Flossmoor.
Village board members Monday unanimously approved a special use permit allowing Malnati’s, one of the Chicago area’s best-known purveyors of deep dish pizza, to open a carryout/delivery restaurant in the Flossmoor Commons shopping center.
Sasha Milosavlyevich, Malnati’s director of facilities and real estate, told the board that the family-owned chain first opened a restaurant in Flossmoor Commons in the mid-1970s. It was the third Malnati’s restaurant opened by the company.
In 1978, Lou Malnati, the restaurant’s founder, died and his son Marc – who had just graduated from college – joined the family business, which was going through hard economic times, Milosavlyevich said. In 1978, Malnati’s made the difficult decision to close the Flossmoor restaurant.
Marc Malnati, owner of the popular pizza chain, Tuesday provided a history of the Flossmoor restaurant to the H-F Chronicle.
Today, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria operates 45 restaurants in the Chicago area. Thirty of them are for carryout and delivery only, with 13 full-service restaurants and two cafes.
Malnati’s is excited about returning to Flossmoor, Milosavlyevich said. He expects the restaurant to open in October. With the village board’s approval, construction crews will soon begin a complete renovation of the space at 3315 Vollmer Road, the former Flavor restaurant site.
Previously, zoning regulations at Flossmoor Commons did not allow a carryout restaurant. Monday’s action changes that and allows a zoning amendment permitting a carryout restaurant in that class of business district. The Flossmoor Commons special use permit in Flossmoor Commons was amended so that Malnati’s is allowed to operate a carryout restaurant at just that address. Any future requests for carryout only restaurants will need to be decided on a case by case basis and will also require a special use permit.
The village’s plan commission conducted a public hearing on the Malnati’s request on July 21 and recommended the zoning change to the board.
Mayor Paul Braun asked Milosavlyevich if Malnati’s would consider a dining area at the restaurant.
“Tables are not in the carryout model,” Milosavlyevich said. “The kitchen area is very big.”
Malnati’s plans to renovate a space that is approximately 1,986 square feet. The kitchen and prep area will take up 1,100 square feet and about 300 square feet will be available as a vestibule and customer pickup area. The restaurant will also include an office and employee-only restroom. Up to five employees will staff the restaurant during its hours of operation.
Trustee James Mitros, who grew up in Flossmoor, said he remembers the village’s original Malnati’s from his college days.
Recently, Mitros said, he told his son – who was unfamiliar with Malnati’s – that it offered a superior pizza. To prove it, he took his son to a Malnati’s restaurant in one of the nearby southwest suburbs.
“I had to convince him how good it is,” Mitros said. “And I did.”