The Biz Week That Was: Cafe closure, new grocer, and rise in self-checkout among highlights

Arlington Heights’ Uptown Cafe closes

After the deaths of owners Georgios and Georgene Avgeris just days apart last year, family members soldiered on to keep the couple’s Uptown Cafe in Arlington Heights open. But now, after 34 years of dishing breakfast favorites to loyal patrons, the cafe’s operators announced the popular restaurant at 24 E. Miner St. has served its last meal. “The day has finally come for us to hang up our hats and rest knowing Uptown Cafe will always hold our fondest memories and have a special place in so many hearts,” reads a Facebook post signed by the Kavathas and Avgeris family.

Dom’s Kitchen & Market looks to Vernon Hills as first suburban location

The concept for Dom’s Kitchen & Market recently got an enthusiastic thumbs up from the Vernon Hills village board and will proceed to a detailed staff review ahead of a public hearing and an eventual official vote. Proposed on an outlot to be created at 600 Townline Road (Route 60) as part of the extensive Hawthorn mall redevelopment, the 24,400-square-foot store would have a significantly smaller footprint and style than a typical grocery store. The boutique-style operation is envisioned as a hybrid grocery store and restaurant, a new concept built upon “a grocery legacy and neighborhood service with a focus on the experiental love food,” according to an overview of the idea.

Deer Park to allow video gambling — but only at one business

For the first time since they were legalized in Illinois, video gambling machines will be allowed in Deer Park — but only at a local bowling alley. The village board recently approved an ordinance that creates a licensing program for the potentially lucrative machines. One active license will be allowed at a time, and only businesses that occupy at least 30,000 square feet of space and serve alcohol are eligible. One business in town qualifies: Bowlero, 21080 N. Rand Road.

Crystal Lake-based Mexican restaurant aims to create sit-down area

Mexican restaurant Antojitos Mexicanos La Fonda in Crystal Lake is looking to expand its business to create a sit-down area. La Fonda, which is in the Coventry Plaza shopping center at 35 E. Berkshire Drive, now is a takeout-only restaurant. The owners plan to buy the unit next to the restaurant to expand for a dining room with 64 seats. The unit next door is occupied by Boost Mobile, but that business plans to move out soon, La Fonda owner Andres Aguilar said.

Love it or hate it, self-checkout is here to stay. But it's going through a reckoning

The promise of self-checkout was alluring: Customers could avoid long lines by scanning and bagging their own items, workers could be freed of doing those monotonous tasks themselves and retailers could save on labor costs. Customers griping about clunky technology that spits out mysterious error codes, workers having to stand around and monitor both humans and machines, and retailers contending with theft are among the challenges of self-checkout. In 2021, self-checkout usage represented 30% of transactions, almost double from 2018, according to a survey of retailers. And 96% of retailers surveyed offer self-checkout.

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