Deli eyeing former Le Francais site in Wheeling

  • The former Le Francais restaurant property at 269 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling has been unused since 2007.

    The former Le Francais restaurant property at 269 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling has been unused since 2007. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The owner of Chicago's Alex Super Deli is planning to relocate to the former Le Francais building at 269 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling.

    The owner of Chicago's Alex Super Deli is planning to relocate to the former Le Francais building at 269 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The owner of Alex Super Deli in Chicago wants to buy the vacant Le Francais restaurant and site in Wheeling. Le Francais has been closed since 2007, and the site has been unused since then.

    The owner of Alex Super Deli in Chicago wants to buy the vacant Le Francais restaurant and site in Wheeling. Le Francais has been closed since 2007, and the site has been unused since then. Courtesy of Svn Auctionworks

 
 
Updated 5/18/2021 8:02 PM

A long-vacant building on Wheeling's Restaurant Row may finally have found a new occupant.

The owner of Chicago's Alex Super Deli is planning to relocate to the former Le Francais building at 269 S. Milwaukee Ave. The suburban deli would have a different name, Village Manager Jon Sfondilis said.

 

The operation would specialize in Polish food, offer catering services and host private parties, documents indicate.

Once a popular fine-dining attraction lauded by customers, critics and celebrity chefs, Le Francais closed in 2007. The site has been unused since then.

Alex Super Deli's owner has a contract to buy the property and the adjacent vacant land at 283 S. Milwaukee Ave., village documents indicate. If the deal goes through, the new owner will renovate the 4,332-square-foot building and improve the parking lot.

"Le Francais will forever be a source of pride in Wheeling's history," Sfondilis said.

"We look forward to this new opportunity continuing the tradition of providing the option of a high-quality European menu to the visitors of Restaurant Row."

Work would begin as soon as possible, documents indicate.

Additionally, the prospective owner plans to expand the building and lot onto the adjoining vacant property in a year or two, documents show.

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Alex Super Deli has 15 employees who would transfer to the Wheeling location, and five additional employees would be hired, documents indicate. More employees may be added as the business and the building grows.

Village President Pat Horcher is excited about Alex Super Deli's pending arrival.

"It's awesome," Horcher said. "A deli is not exactly Le Francais, but it will be nice to have that site active again."

An Alex Super Deli representative couldn't be reached for comment.

The prospective buyer is seeking a Cook County property assessment discount to help offset the costs of the planned improvements, documents indicate.

The discount would last 12 years, although the rate would rise over time during that period.

The village board on Monday formally agreed to support a request for the property to receive the necessary assessment classification. The board also declared the two properties on Milwaukee Avenue blighted, another requirement for the assessment discount.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Although an assessment discount would reduce the village's potential property tax revenue from the site at first, an active business there would increase the property's value, thus increasing the property tax revenue, Horcher said. The deli also would generate new sales tax revenue for Wheeling.

"Everybody wins," Horcher said.

Cook County officials will decide the matter.

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