Daily Herald opinion: It hurts more to lose some businesses than others, but towns have to find ways to adapt

  • Fans of Cafe la Cave shared their nostalgia and anger about the business being town down and what's replacing it.

    Fans of Cafe la Cave shared their nostalgia and anger about the business being town down and what's replacing it.

Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 9/27/2023 9:08 AM
This editorial is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board.

If you've lived in the suburbs for the past 20-plus years, you've probably celebrated milestones at local restaurants and entertainment venues.

Weddings, anniversaries and birthdays have been feted at businesses we drive by on a daily basis. And as we drive by, the memories flood our brains.


But when that special place closes and is replaced with something unfamiliar, we feel like part of us is gone, too.

Such is the case with Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. We first reported on the banquet hall's closure back in January, but we recently told readers what will replace this suburban institution.

People on social media expressed their sadness, once again, about Cafe la Cave closing after 46 years. So many comments on our Facebook post referenced fond family memories of anniversaries celebrated there year after year, wedding receptions held there 27 years ago or just a special meal on any given day.

"Thanks for the memories, Cafe la Cave," one person wrote, with over 300 comments expressing similar sentiments.

But it's not all cheerful nostalgia -- there's anger too. People are upset, not only about a favorite restaurant being torn down, but what will replace it and their memories.

Three new restaurants are coming to 2777 Mannheim Road, two of which are fast-food eateries that many view as all too common in the suburbs.

So their memories of a delicious Steak Diane dinner are being replaced with chicken fingers and tacos to-go. We get it.

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And it's not unique to Des Plaines. Fancy banquet halls, restaurants and event spaces across the suburbs that once thrived have also struggled and closed, giving way to what's trending these days -- quick, easy and cheap.

It's only natural that businesses will fade over the years, and it's natural for us to miss them.

But it's also important for towns like Des Plaines to find successful ways to replace them.

We agree with our readers -- fast-food chain restaurants will probably not create the kind of unique life memories that a banquet hall once did.

But we also understand that Des Plaines is attempting to ensure that it replaces a failed business with something that will still meet consumer needs and provide revenue for the city.

So it's a balance. A balance of nostalgia and emotions versus business decisions. A balance of old versus new. A balance of unsuccessful versus constructive and productive.

As Cafe la Cave is torn down, hold on tight to your memories. You'll always have them, despite the building disappearing.

And here's to a new generation of restaurants, hopefully providing that balance -- new memories for customers and robust business for Des Plaines.

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