Owners look to life after closing of Le Titi de Paris

Come Father's Day, chef Michael Maddox will get a much deserved day of rest.

The day before, on Saturday, June 16, Maddox and his wife, Susan, will saute their last Dover sole and plate their last chocolate souffle as owners of Le Titi de Paris, the highly acclaimed French restaurant that has been a fine dining destination in the Northwest suburbs for 40 years.

The couple, who purchased the Arlington Heights restaurant in 2004 from 30-year owner chef Pierre Pollin, are closing the doors. No more missing children's baseball games or swim meets; no more ducking out of family birthday parties early to get back in time for dinner service; no more running around on "days off" procuring ingredients for tomorrow's special.

"As an owner, I can't turn it off. Even when the restaurant was closed I'd still wonder if the cooler is running and all those other details," Maddox said Monday.

He said the decision to sell the restaurant as it marks a milestone anniversary wasn't easy. The couple shared the decision with the staff of about 25 full- and part-time cooks and wait staff after Sunday's lunch service. Reservations are being taken for lunch and dinner, as well as for the restaurant's final French regional wine dinner that will be offered June 15.

"It's still my passion," Maddox said. "We did a lot of soul searching and thought maybe we should try to simplify our lives so we can be there for our children."

Susan Maddox curtailed her hours at the restaurant last year and went back to teaching part-time. The couple have two children, Emily, 15, and Bryce, 12, who are familiar faces at the restaurant, checking coats, helping with children's cooking classes and pitching in where needed.

Frequent diner Donna Smith said the couple's passion was evident in every dish and their personal touch will be missed.

"We have a history of birthday and anniversary celebrations there; it's going to be a big, big loss," said Smith, of Long Grove, who counts herself as a regular since the late 1990s. Smith even lunched at Le Titi de Paris on Monday with the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club.

"The restaurant is closed on Monday, but every year Michael opens it just for us," Smith said. "You always get that personal touch that you just don't get from a chain (restaurant)."

Maddox said he and his wife have been approached a few times over the years by developers interested in the roughly 1-acre site at Dundee Road and Kennicott Avenue, and with the economy not turning around quickly enough, now seemed like the time to accept the latest offer.

Pollin said he understands.

"I know it started to get hard," Pollin said. "Even when things are good, it's still fairly hard to make money; when traffic slows, it's even harder."

John Melaniphy, business and development coordinator for Arlington Heights, said a proposal is before the plan commission to redevelop the site. The existing building would be torn down to make way for a building with three retail/restaurant tenants. The project is on the agenda for the April 25 plan commission meeting. Any project will need final approval from the village board.

Melaniphy said the village has talked with the Maddoxes about relocating elsewhere in town, but Michael Maddox isn't ready for that just yet.

He said he's looking forward to taking a physical and mental break from the job. Maddox said he'd like to teach, do some catering or run a retail shop with Susan "where we could sell rum balls, duck confit, chocolates ... and have more evenings off with our children."

Adds Susan: "We are so excited about the future. We have so many ideas and possibilities that would give us a more flexible schedule, and that is what we need in our lives right now. We feel this is the ideal time to do something new."

Le Titi de Paris alumni still cooking

  Le Titi De Paris has been in Arlington Heights since 1987. A proposal is before the village’s plan commission to tear down the building to make way for a new retail/restaurant complex. Bob Chwedyk/
  Chef Michael Maddox stands before some of Le Titi De Paris’ numerous awards in 2010. The restaurant will close June 16. JOE LEWNARD/
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