Original Pancake House
Chain plans to fill vacant building in La Grange
By Steve Metsch
The former Bakers Square site in La Grange will not be vacant for very long.
Just four months after Bakers Squares closed, passersby now see a sign alerting them of a new restaurant there.
The Original Pancake House will occupy the building at 942 S. La Grange Road.
Charity Jones, Community Development Director for La Grange, said “we’re very happy.”
“We’ve spoken with the owner of the franchise location and (we’re) excited to work with them,” Jones said on July 10.
A sign on La Grange Road tells passersby of the new tenant for the former Bakers Square site in La Grange. Photo by Steve Metsch.
Jones is not surprised a new occupant was found relatively quickly after Bakers Square closed Feb. 23, even though the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of cooling.
“I think from what I’m seeing, from the inquires that we’re getting, La Grange continues to be a place where people want to do business,” Jones said.
“In any situation, whether it’s a pandemic or other economic downturn, there’s always opportunities,” Jones said. “While we’re sad to see some businesses go, we’re happy to welcome new ones in.”
Elizabeth Highet, whose late grandfather, Lester Highet, founded the chain in 1953 in Portland, Oregon, said “the family that’s going to be there, they’ve been one our longest franchisees.”
Charles Wagner and wife Julie Harrigan run Original Pancake House restaurants at 10437 S. Western Ave., in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, and at 10900 S. Cicero Ave., Oak Lawn, Highet said.
Dick Harrigan, Julie’s father, was an Original Pancake House franchise owner dating back to “the late ‘50s, early ‘60s,” Highet said.
“It’s really exciting,” Highet said of the new location. “They were excited about that site because it wouldn’t take that much work (to re-open as a restaurant).”
The one-acre site was zoned commercial in May 1976 for Poppin’ Fresh Pies, Sarah Parkes, executive director of the La Grange Area Historical Society, said in March.
Poppin’ Fresh Pies was rebranded as Bakers Square in 1985 when the chain was purchased by the Village Inn company, Parkes said.
The Original Pancake House chain has 140 restaurants in the United States, along with eight in Japan, Highet said. A fourth restaurant in South Korea will soon open, she said.
According to the chain’s web site, “The Original Pancake House is a second- and third-generation family business, which takes great pride in maintaining the high standards that make our food so outstanding.”
“Our recipes demand only the very finest of ingredients, such as 93 score butter, pure 36% whipping cream, fresh grade AA eggs, hard wheat unbleached flour, and our own recipe sourdough starter,” the web site added. “Our batters and sauces are made fresh in each restaurant’s kitchen.”
While the Original Pancake House will be new to La Grange, it is not new to the immediate area.
Longtime residents may recall there had been an Original Pancake House restaurant in La Grange Park. Located on La Grange Road north of Ogden Avenue. It closed several years ago. The building was razed.