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Zak's Place in Hinsdale Closing Its Doors Saturday Night

One of the restaurant's owners said disagreement with the owner over rent contributed to the closing of the restaurant, which has served Hinsdale since 2007.

Updated at 12:03 p.m. Friday

Zak's Place owners announced Thursday that the restaurant will be closing down this weekend after serving its contemporary American cuisine to diners at 112 S. Washington St. in downtown Hinsdale for five years.

"All of us at Zak's Place have made great friends, had fun times and created many wonderful memories with you," reads a Thursday night Facebook post from Yamandú Perez, one of the restaurant's two owners. "But, sadly we can no longer afford the costs of doing business, so we've decided to say farewell."

Perez's co-owner, Matthew Van Valkenburgh, said the restaurant's owners said the their first five-year lease ended in August and they were unable to lock down a long-term lease with the owner. 

"We basically couldn’t come to an agreement on price," Van Valkenburgh said.

The co-owner said rising costs and a dip in business also contributed to the decision. 

"To make it work, our rent had to come down a lot," Van Valkenburgh said.

Jay Javors of Midwest Property Group, the firmed that manages the property, said the owners had not paid rent for the last several months. Van Valkenburg said that's true, but also said they were at the same time trying to work out a long-term deal they could afford.

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Perez's post thanked Zak's Place's customers.

"I want to thank you for your loyalty for the five plus years we've been open," it reads. "In particular, your loyalty throughout the rough economic times of 2009-10 will never be forgotten. We couldn't have survived without you."

Van Valkenburgh echoed that sentiment. He commended the people of Hinsdale.

"People here care," he said, "and that’s the thing we’ll remember the most, how much our customers cared for us and supported us during the rough times and the good times."

Friday night and Saturday night, the last two nights of service at Zak's Place, Van Valkenburgh said all wine will be half price, hoping the restaurant can show its customers one last good time.

"Even the cheap stuff," he said. "We’re doing everything half price."

Zak's Place opened in 2007 "by two friends with the vision of creating a neighborhood restaurant with an urban feel," the restaurant's website reads. "Zak's Place began with the idea that excellent food and service should be customary."

Perez is also an owner of TWO, a restaurant on Chicago's near west side.

Disappointed November 09, 2012 at 02:32 AM
This is really depressing. My wife and I LOVE Zak's Place. After the second time we visited, the owner and staff recognized us as repeat customers. The food and service were always top-notch. We also made it a point to take several family members to Zak's, and they loved it too. So sad....
Lorette Lavine November 09, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Very sad that Zak's is closing....yet another loss for Hinsdale due to money and rents..too bad!
Gregory Bolts November 09, 2012 at 03:32 AM
They served a great burger at a reasonable price there! It is a shame when folks get greedy no matter what size of a business.
Pat November 09, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Wonder how long the place stays empty. It seems it would have been simpler to deal with what works.
Debbie DiOrio November 09, 2012 at 01:06 PM
When Tommy Rs was there, the "owner" of the building pulled the same ridiculous thing- forcing that restaurant to move because of rent. Then the building stayed empty for years- is that good rent income? Or are the tax loopholes more valuable? Now Zaks with the same issue. This building owner seems to have a heavy dose of greed without much heart or common sense. Especially in this economy. Sorry Zaks- you will be missed.
Jack November 09, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I heard they have not paid their rent in 5 months. Who's the victim here?
Amber Gitter November 09, 2012 at 01:53 PM
More empty office and retail space in downtown Hinsdale doesn't look good for Hinsdale.
Jim Shoe November 09, 2012 at 02:35 PM
My home town is MI is a sister situation to Hinsdale. A great town with loyal residents who love supporting their home team and businesses. With such success, building owners prey on small operators and exout their successes for more rent, cost sharing of fees, etc. I know the owner here also drive New Yolk, New Yolk out of town. I assume since other buildings he owns, like te old GAP location, sit empty while he exploits the few remaining renters to cover downfalls in his own operating principles. The town will be emptied, he will not relinquish. It will be a continuum of rotating businesses and hurt our way of life am memories. Worse, he most likely inherited the buildings or money to purchase them with and like our politicians, has no idea on how to build community, success,, or local commitment.
Jack November 09, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I know the owner too and he is an entirely self made, understated, charitable man who happens to be in the real estate business. (And no, it's not me!) With all due respect, you have know idea what your talking about. When you stop making your mtg payments, you lose your house, when you stop making your car payments you lose your car etc. Same goes when you stop paying your rent. The Gap's closing was a corporate decision.
Joe O'Donnell (Editor) November 09, 2012 at 04:30 PM
For the record, Gap shut down because of a corporate decision to move away from suburban downtown locations. Patch story here: http://patch.com/A-vTM8
Dawn Lantero November 09, 2012 at 05:23 PM
No matter what the reason, it is a loss to Hinsdale. Love that place!
Mark Kreger November 09, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I don't think this is a case of deadbeats deciding not to pay their rent. They haven't had a lease in months and were trying to work it out. The building owner wanted more money. They couldn't pay increased rent and still make the business work in their judgment. Now the space will be empty. Maybe the building owner knows what he is doing, but its an absolute shame. What a nice addition that place was to our town.
Joe O'Donnell (Editor) November 09, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I think you're right, Mark, but based on what Zak's Place owners have said, it sounds like instead of wanting more money, it was Zak's who needed to pay less to make things work because of rising utility costs and a dip in business. Now who's being fair and who's being unfair, I don't know. But Van Valkenburg said Zak's could not afford the same lease they had going forward. I'd just be wary of saying the property owner wanted more than Zak's was paying in its first five years.
Mark Kreger November 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Perhaps my word choice could have been better. My point was that an incorrect impression was left by the previous writer who seemed to suggest that the landlord was a victim and Zak's owners were deadbeats. Business might have "dipped" at Zaks but was strong enough to survive according to my sources. I'm not casting blame, but the fact is that there have been three restaurants that have left that space since I moved to Hinsdale, and now it will be vacant again for who knows how long.
Joe O'Donnell (Editor) November 09, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Totally valid perspective, Mark. Thanks for sharing and putting your full name to your comment! I didn't mean to shoot you down, I just wanted to be clear on what I'd been told.
Jack November 09, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Nobody called the tenants deadbeats. However, by there own admission, thay have not paid rent in months. As I understand it, 5 months. Thats a lot of free rent while they continue to have the luxury of an income stream from the restaurant. What a deal! In addition, if your looking to renegotiate your lease, It does not give you the right to stop paying it all together. It is not the building owners fault that these tenants like Zaks, New Yolk New Yolk etc. get in over there head. No landlord in his right mind is looking to have a dark vacant building, but at some point they have to throw the squatters out! Zaks operators are not being straight with the patrons/residents. The stiffed the landlord and suddenly the landlord is "Mr. Potter"
Tammy B November 09, 2012 at 10:07 PM
It's a shame that everyone wants to blame the building owner when realistically the restaurant owner or management cant' pay their bills and have bit off more than they can chew. I used to receive notices for various events at Zaks until May or June but those stopped coming once the owners decided to abandon this location and focus on their new location in the City. Once that opened they just completely gave up on HInsdale even with their regular patrons. It's a shame people who don't own buildings say what they do when they don't have a clue what sacrifices need to be made to keep their tenants viable. It's up to any business owner to not overspend and to advertise on a regular basis. Word of mouth just doesn't cut it when you don't have a fabulous chef or know how to operate restaurants like VIE which is the gem of Western Springs. People come from all over because of their product and the restaurant management. Shame on Zaks for not owning up to the real reason they left or abandoned this beautiful space.
Joe O'Donnell (Editor) November 09, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Again for the record, Matthew Van Valkenburg says he has no role in TWO, the Chicago restaurant. Of the Zak's owners, only Yamandú Perez is affiliated.
kerry turgeon November 10, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Couldn't agree more..
angelika derlaga November 10, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Really? I have been with Zak's since it opened five years ago, I have a clue. Yamandu and Mathew are great people and have given all of its employees respect and personaly its been a honor to be a part of the Zak's team. By opening Two that doesn't mean they abandoned anything, we had a great GM take over and keep the restaurant consistent. There are always two sides to every story, but don't bash people you know nothing about. Find something better to do and have a wonderful evening.
Tammy B November 10, 2012 at 10:58 AM
That's good, at least YOU were paid by Zaks.
Marty Kwilosz November 12, 2012 at 03:30 AM
it really doesn't. Aside from the 2 hot dog places and Peter Burdis restaurants things seem kind of dreary. I have to be in Hinsdale a few times a month for personal business. Compared to other small down town areas it feels like a ghost town. I really feel a store like Gorilla Games www.gorillagamesil.com or something Brookstone-ish would turn things around.
Steve Woodward November 12, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Hinsdale is a town without a soul. It is a town of late-model cars and a police force which despises the people it is supposed to serve. It is a place occupied by self-absorbed, heartless people, so it is no surprise that its commercial landlords do not hesitate to let thriving businesses die. It is a sad place, really. A microcosm of the cesspool that is Illinois.
Sue Pircon November 12, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Wow Steve, what a statement. I cannot believe you would describe your neighbors with such animosity. As a life long resident I feel your description of our town could not be further from the truth. I know from personal experience that Hinsdale is filled with compassionate and generous people that care for each other and come out in droves when a neighbor is in need. To attack the police force that keep our crime rate low and our elderly residents feeling safe is an outrage. I find your comment that Hinsdale is a town without a soul personally offensive. In the past you have attacked our schools, our village representatives and now our residents and police force. Perhaps you need to do some soul searching and find another town more suited for you.
Mary Buddig November 12, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Steve, I have lived in this town since I was 13. I am not sure where you live, but you are so wrong on every point. I am also sad for you that you have such anger towards our little town. The people in Hinsdale work hard; we care about our neighbors; and we help other towns and states whenever something is needed. Our families are generous and caring. In addition, for you to say bad things about our police force, really offends me. I agree with Sue. If you think that this area is so bad then please move to an area that will make you happy. We live in America. You are free to move to another town or state for that matter. I hope that you can find happiness somewhere. Life is to short to have such anger.
mike rummler January 01, 2013 at 05:25 AM
Hinsdale is great. Period. My husband and I were married in Hawaii and were concerned about finding a place to live that would welcome a gay couple. When we lived in Jefferson park so many people gave us issues. I grew up in Jefferson park and attended a catholic Schiller and my husband is from nearby saugnash. We even had friends who were police officers in the 16th district. Lots if anti gay stuff all the time. Hinsdale has been the exact opposite. Our first week here, we were invited to three parties and welcomed by all. We even have been able to hold hands in downtown hinsdale.

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