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Arlington Hts. accepts tavern renovation plan
By Sheila Ahern | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/20/2008 12:10 AM

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The owners of Jimmy D's finally got their renovation approved on Monday.

After being denied two years ago, the owners of the Arlington Heights restaurant received unanimous approval for a new plan at Monday's village board meeting.

"We're thrilled and excited," said Peter Demarakis, son of Jimmy Demarakis, who owns the eatery. "We going out to get a drink tonight. That's all I want to say."

Demarakis declined to say when the renovation would take place or if the restaurant would be closed during the work.

Jimmy D's has been an Arlington Heights institution for 22 years, and Peter Demarakis plans on running the restaurant when his father, Jimmy, retires. Jimmy D's is located in the shadow of Arlington Park racetrack at 1718 W. Northwest Hwy. in Arlington Heights. Summer is the bar's busiest season, when regulars shuffle in after the track closes.

In October 2006, the village board denied Demarakis' plans to demolish two homes and completely rebuild and expand Jimmy D's after neighbors complained about the size of the renovation.

The old plan was a major expansion that included an outdoor patio and a new 7,000-square-foot restaurant to seat nearly 200 people. A two-story commercial building to the west and two single-family homes to the east were slated for demolition.

The new plan approved on Monday will slightly reduce Jimmy D's seating area from 120 to 113 seats. It will greatly reduce the bar area to seat 21 people instead of 80. There are no plans at this time to build outdoor seating or to demolish the nearby homes or commercial building.

The new plan will also remove the metal canopy over the east entrance and build a 81-square-foot glass vestibule. All the glass windows will be replaced, and new metal panels and light fixtures will be installed.

Despite the changes, a handful of residents complained that Jimmy D's will still be open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 1 a.m. during the rest of the week, and therefore was not really trying to be more of a family restaurant.

Thomas DiGiovanni lives on the 900 block of North Race Street.

"Those hours are not consistent with a family restaurant," DiGiovanni said. "The plan is attractive, but I still (have) an issue with the hours."

Peter Demarakis said he has no plans to close Jimmy's earlier after the renovation.

"We don't want to alienate the customers we have," said Demarakis during the board meeting. "There are a lot of (Arlington Park) track customers and track employees who come in later. They are the livelihood of our business."