Nikko's, a longtime hangout for Hersey High School students, has closed for good

  • Nikko's restaurant in Prospect Heights, known for its gyros, burgers and hot dogs for decades, has closed. A favorite hangout of John Hersey High School students, the corner greasy-spoon spot will be replaced by an upscale Korean barbecue restaurant.

      Nikko's restaurant in Prospect Heights, known for its gyros, burgers and hot dogs for decades, has closed. A favorite hangout of John Hersey High School students, the corner greasy-spoon spot will be replaced by an upscale Korean barbecue restaurant. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • A sign hangs in the window of the now-closed Nikko's restaurant in Prospect Heights. The owner says it was time to retire, but the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic also played a part in his decision.

      A sign hangs in the window of the now-closed Nikko's restaurant in Prospect Heights. The owner says it was time to retire, but the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic also played a part in his decision. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/15/2020 5:44 PM

A mom-and-pop greasy spoon known for its Chicago-style specialties and as a regular hangout for students from nearby John Hersey High School has served its last gyro.

Nikko's, in business for more than three decades at 1421 Rand Road on the Prospect Heights-Arlington Heights border, closed this month not only due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but also the owner's desire to retire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"My restaurant was good. People, they love it, and I had many customers," said Young Song, who ran Nikko's for the last 15 years. "I'm sorry I had to close down permanently, but I hope the new owner can do much better than me."

Song recently closed on the sale of the 3,825-square-foot restaurant to a group connected to proprietors of Ttowa Korean Bistro in downtown Arlington Heights. They plan to open an upscale Korean barbecue restaurant in the old Nikko's by September, according to Brad Bullington, a broker with GC Realty & Development, who represented both buyer and seller in the transaction.

Plans are for major renovations, including the addition of a bar and conversion of the outdoor drive-in ordering area to a dining patio, Bullington said.

Song was the third owner of Nikko's, purchasing the restaurant from someone who owned it for a short time, after the original owner ran it for nearly 20 years.

Song said business was "OK" before the state-ordered closure of restaurants in March, and then things came to a halt. But with retirement already on his mind, Song says he doesn't have plans to serve burgers and hot dogs anywhere else.

"I'm 62 years old," he said. "I think it's time to get out of the business."

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