Leona's Property Courted by McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts

By Benjamin Woodard on February 20, 2013 7:03am | Updated on February 20, 2013 10:28am

 Leona's in Rogers Park could close if a buyer is found — or stick around for "another 30 years."
Leona's in Rogers Park could close if a buyer is found — or stick around for "another 30 years."
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — The building that houses Leona's Restaurant in Rogers Park is up for sale, but not anywhere near being sold or leased yet, the company's CEO said.

Leon Toia said that since putting the 9,000-square-foot building at 6935 N. Sheridan Road on the market, he has been in negotiations with interested buyers, including McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, but walked away because the offers weren't what he was looking for.

He said he still plans to lease or sell the space and move not far away to the smaller Leona's-owned Hop Haus location at 7545 N. Clark St., a company gastropub brand it plans to discontinue.

But there's no rush to move out of the 26-year-old building on Sheridan Road, the second Leona's restaurant to be opened after Toia's grandfather started the chain in Lakeview in 1950.

"We're OK," Toia said of his company's financial health. "It's not a fire sale."

Leona' confirmed to Crain's Chicago Business earlier this month it would close three of its four suburban locations in an effort to downsize.

It also announced plans to close its Southwest Side headquarters and commissary and consolidate operations into its East Village location at 1936 W. Augusta Blvd.

Toia estimates the company will shed about 100 of its 500 employees.

He said the company is adapting to changes in customer behavior. A large portion of its business at its eight Chicago locations is now from deliveries, he said. The 300-seat Rogers Park restaurant alone employs 20 drivers.

Representatives from anonymous restaurant chains also came out of the woodwork when Toia began "testing the waters" about selling the Rogers Park building, he said. Even a day care company showed interest in the property, which boasts two parking lots.

Toia said he would consider sharing the space with a restaurant that wouldn't compete for customers, like a breakfast joint, but he's also "in a position to stay and count my blessings."

 The Leona's in Rogers Park has been a neighborhood institution for 26 years. A voter receives his ballot from an elections judge at the restaurant last November.
The Leona's in Rogers Park has been a neighborhood institution for 26 years. A voter receives his ballot from an elections judge at the restaurant last November.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

"It wouldn't surprise me if we stayed there at the Sheridan Road location for another 30 years."

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