Nearly five years after Alemar's served its final meal, there are signs of life again in the vacant building at Dundee and Quentin roads near Palatine.
Long Grove restaurateur Tom Coutretsis has purchased the approximately 3,200-square-foot space at 795 W. Dundee Road in unincorporated Cook County. He has plans for a yet-to-be-named restaurant that will open within three months, according to the project's construction engineer.
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Dino Tsoros, owner of Mount Prospect-based Praxis Construction, said work has begun on both the interior and exterior of the building.
Initially, the restaurant's focus will be limited to breakfast and lunch.
"We might add dinner," Tsoros said. "We'll have to see how it goes at first."
The busy intersection's southeast corner has been neglected -- even the Alemar's sign remains -- and deteriorated since Alemar's closed in August 2008.
At the time, owner Marilyn Alevras, who opened the diner-style eatery in 1986 with her late husband and brother-in-law, said the economic downturn was keeping away patrons despite her last-ditch effort to remodel and update the menu.
Coutretsis, who says he has been in the restaurant business for 45 years, is a partial owner in the Billy Goat Tavern at Navy Pier and owned Tommy's Greek Express in the Navy Pier food court.
Coutretsis said the Palatine area property is large enough to accommodate future commercial development. He has razed two adjacent houses near the church on Quentin Road and has been surveying the area and the village of Palatine, which could one day annex the site, to determine what could work.
"We'll do something with the rest of the property, but we're not sure what right now," Coutretsis said.
Tsoros said the pair is confident the new restaurant will be well-received with its more modern decor and coffee bar.
"This corner was sleeping for many years, but it's very busy and has high visibility," Tsoros said. "It's going to be totally different from before."