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updated: 9/13/2011 3:43 PM

Jimmy's Place in Arlington Hts. closed over taxes

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  • Jimmy's Place, a long time favorite spot for burgers and cold beer in Arlington Heights, has been closed.

      Jimmy's Place, a long time favorite spot for burgers and cold beer in Arlington Heights, has been closed.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • It's not known if the owners of Jimmy's Place will try to reopen.

      It's not known if the owners of Jimmy's Place will try to reopen.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer


Jimmy's Place, an icon in Arlington Heights for more than 50 years, is closed.

A notice from the Illinois Department of Revenue attached to the restaurant at 640 W. Northwest Hwy., just south of Euclid Avenue, says its license has been revoked. It was not known Monday what obligations the state is seeking.

A spokesman for the department said closing a business is a last resort, and the amount due would not be released publicly. Businesses are allowed to reopen if they bring their tax accounts current.

The owner of the restaurant could not be reached to say whether Jimmy's might reopen.

Ernest Blomquist, village prosecutor, said he thinks the restaurant opened around 1958, and it was always owned by Mary Lou and James Stevens.

Jimmy's Place was known for its hot dogs and was a spot where high school students and families hung out, said Blomquist. He went to Prospect High School, but said Arlington High School students especially frequented Jimmy's.

The restaurant received a beer and wine license in 1984 after Arlington High School closed, then was grandfathered in by the time Christian Liberty Academy moved into the building. Liquor licenses are not usually issued that close to a school. The owners chose not to renew that license at the end of April, Diana Mikula, assistant to the village manager, said Monday.

"They told me personally the liquor license was too much of a hassle with the fees and the insurance," said Blomquist. "They wanted it to be more of a family place. It was their decision, the village didn't pressure them."

About a year ago it was reported that the Internal Revenue Service had a big bill against the owner, and closure was threatened until Mary Lou Stevens paid the $40,000 from her retirement fund. She had been a nurse by profession, said Blomquist.

The prosecutor knows the history of the place and has eaten hot dogs there since his days as a student at Prospect High School in the early 1960s.

"What's now the parking lot was a drive-up corner hot dog place," said Blomquist. "It was a little tiny place."

Sometime in the late 1960s or early '70s Jimmy's moved into the building next door, and the original building was demolished, he said.

"We never had problems with them about health codes or fire codes," said Blomquist.

However, early this year the restaurant was fined after James Stevens admitted serving alcohol to a minor. James Stevens said at the January liquor hearing he had sold the restaurant to Mary Lou in 2000, but came back to help her.

Village President Arlene Mulder fined the restaurant $100 after Blomquist dropped one of the two counts from the single incident.

At that time Blomquist said: "They deserve a break. Nobody's run a business better in this town than these two people." And he said they had donated considerably to charities.

"I was there a week to 10 days ago," said Blomquist, "and the place was still going strong I thought. I suspect their problem was the economy and so much competition with places to eat in town."