A new operator wants to rekindle the family-owned hot dog joint concept at the former Slott's Hots, which operated for more than 30 years on the north side of Libertyville before closing abruptly early this year.
The plan for Jack Straw's hot dog and pizza restaurant at 1124 N. Milwaukee Ave. involves a hefty investment to include a complete remodel and upgrade of the building and grounds. It would be the second Jack Straw's store, which has operated since 1982 in Wheaton.
"I've been looking to open a second location for some time," said Sam Hood, who has run the operation for his father, Bill, since 2002. "I've looked at many sites but nothing stood out like Libertyville."
According to information provided to the village, Hood built a new home in Wadsworth in 2012 and since has been looking for a location closer to home. While the former Slott's suits the business, the building and site have been neglected and will require extensive work, according to Hood.
Hood says he plans to invest about $400,000 to upgrade the building and grounds and $100,000 on equipment.
Plans call for upgrades inside and out to include a brick clad exterior with goose-necked lights of baked porcelain, new bathrooms, upgraded electric service and several other building code updates. The new design is intended to be more aesthetically pleasing and "well suited for the existing neighborhood," according to information provided to the village.
"They're proposing some significant changes to the site," said Johanna Bye, associate planner with the village.
The restaurant offers pizza, salads, wings, burgers, cheesesteaks and other fare. Plans are to modernize and streamline the food preparation and ordering system to provide better and faster customer service.
Bill Hood opened for business in 1982 after remodeling a former bank building on Naperville Road in Wheaton across from what then was the DuPage County courthouse. The name was chosen as a reference to the song "Jack Straw" from the Grateful Dead's Europe '72 album, according to Sam Hood.
Hood needs village approvals for signs and a drive-through but hopes to began renovations in January and open in May 2016.
The planned renovation is part of a spurt on the north side of a community where interest generally is focused on the central area. LandMark Exteriors recently relocated and renovated a building along Milwaukee. In the same stretch Jimmy John's repurposed a former Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a vacant Mongolian BBQ restaurant space has a new owner.