Restaurateurs seeking to buy Jack Straw's site in Wheaton

The former Jack Straw's in downtown Wheaton may get a second life.

Restaurateurs are working to reach a contract agreement to buy the high-profile property from the family of Jack Straw's late owner. The prospective buyers are independent operators who would reopen the landmark as a pizzeria, Wheaton Economic Development Director Jim Kozik said Wednesday.

Without a sale finalized, Kozik said he didn't want to speculate on a timeline for the project, but he said the restaurateurs have been in contact with city officials.

Real estate broker Alexandra Korompilas, who has represented the family of Jack Straw's founder, William Hood, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Hood died at Edward Hospital in Naperville the day after Thanksgiving, only five months into his retirement.

In June, the Naperville 63-year-old bid farewell to the fast-food joint he opened in 1982, prompting regulars to flood social media with their memories of Jack Straw's. Named after a Grateful Dead hit, the restaurant served pizza and Chicago classics - Vienna beef hot dogs, gyros, Italian beef and burgers - and often employed high school students.

The restaurant has since sat vacant in a quaint building on a corner lot at Naperville Road and Willow Avenue. The listing price is $350,000. A "for sale" sign no longer stands on the site.

Paula Barrington, the executive director of the Downtown Wheaton Association, a group of business owners, said in an email that "negotiations are under way," but that there is "no final deal yet."

Barrington noted the site's "convenient parking, a drive- through and space for outdoor seating" would benefit a future operator.

"I know that many residents in the community have expressed a desire to see an eatery like Jack Straws (offering a casual menu like hot dogs and pizza slices) open in this location," Barrington wrote.

The restaurant made no reference to the closing on its Facebook page, but only left a brief message to its customers: "Thank you Wheaton for 35 years."

  Jack Straw's closed last June after 35 years of business in downtown Wheaton. Bev Horne/, December 2017
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