By Debra Jensen-De Hart - September 6th 2023
There’s something very recognizable about the West Side Family Restaurant.
Maybe that’s because roughly 50% of the patrons are regulars, says the owner.
For instance there’s the group from St. Paul Lutheran Church there on a recent Friday or the mother and daughter from Shirland who also have frequented the eatery often over the years.
But it’s not just the same old restaurant, located at 530 W. Grand Ave.
About a year ago owner Matt Grajcevci and family decided it was time to invest in the place, said his son, Drilon Grajcevci. Drillon helps out when he can and his brother, Bleron Grajcevci, works full-time with his father.
And so recently, they took the plunge and closed the restaurant for nine days and completely redid the interior. Gone are the old booths, tables, chairs, carpeting and more. They were replaced with new, comfortable, gray leather booths and chairs as well as new tables and new flooring. Countertops also were replaced as well as wall panels, Drilon said.
“All were made in the U.S.,” said Matt Grajcevci of the items.
The family helped with the renovation.
“Sometimes we were here until midnight,” Drilon Grajcevci said.
As for the kitchen, equipment in that area has been replaced over the years, they said.
The family-owned operation was purchased in 2013.
Matt Grajcevci came to the United States in 1999 from the Kosovo/Albania area.
He did not know how to cook, but soon learned after working for several years at various restaurants as a cook, his son said.
Presently, the West Side Family Restaurant has seven employees.
The menu has remained the same and prices have not been raised, the family said.
“Our prices are the same; but some food prices fluctuate depending on the cost to buy the food,” Matt said.
“Our point was to invest in the restaurant,” said his son of the renovation.
The restaurant business can be difficult to maintain.
But what his father has told Drilon is this: “If you give good service and good food at a good price you will always be in business.”
The family celebrated as owners its 10th anniversary in April.
Vicki Barker and her mother, Carol Barker, from the tiny town of Shirland came in to enjoy lunch on this day.
When asked why they frequent the place, Vicki Barker said this:
“I like the atmosphere. It’s clean, the food is good and the staff is friendly,” she said.
Of the new look, “Their improvements are really nice,” she said.
While about half of the customers are regulars, the family also is seeing more younger families come in, they said.
Perhaps in the future that will spur more menu options, Drilon said.
Speaking of modernizing, another new option at the restaurant is that charger outlets are located at each booth.
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