BEVERLY — The love affair between Mr. Angus and Ms. Red Hot was rekindled today as Janson's Drive-In reopened at 9900 S. Western Ave.
The restaurant was closed for two years as a rehab project crawled along. But on Monday, the mascots were reunited as Janson's again welcomed customers.
"It's back to what it was. They even brought back the globe lights," said Bill Gula, referring to the 1960s decor. Janson's Drive-In debuted in September 1960.
Gula, of Mount Greenwood, was first in line at 10:30 a.m. He's been a regular at Jansen's since the 1980s. He said the large banana shakes ($3.25) and Oscar Mayer hot dogs ($1.89) have kept him coming back.
"I've just always loved the food," he said.
Yufei Xing of Griffith, Ind. was among the busy managers making sure customers were enjoying their burgers, fries and shakes.
"The whole neighborhood is excited. They all grew up with this restaurant," Xing said.
Gus and Wendy Pettas of southwest suburban Palos Hills bought Janson's in early 2012 along with a local real estate developer. The Pettas family previously owned and operated Wheatfield’s Restaurant in Tinley Park for 27 years.
"We gutted everything. We cleaned everything. Everything is new," Wendy Pettas said of Janson's.
The developer later dropped out of the restaurant group and Haiwei Yuan of Griffith, Ind. was brought in. The new group successfully completed the rehab and consulted with the original owners Jack and Tom Janson, Xing said.
The Jansons "are our friends. They were here last night as we held a quiet opening," she said.
The new owners leaned heavily on the Janson family for menu recommendations, recipes and supplier suggestions. The result is food that's a throw-back to the drive-in's roots with several modern elements such as chicken sandwiches made from cage-free birds raised without hormones, Xing said.
"We are trying to be as healthy as we can for a fast-food restaurant," Xing said.
Bill Sullivan of Beverly devoured two cheese dogs ($2.39) while classic rock from the 1950s played on Janson's new sound system.
"It's a good day for the neighborhood," Sullivan said.
The Janson family was on his paper route as a kid, and Sullivan's parents used to bring him to the classic drive-in. Now he brings his two sons to Janson's. The restaurant's outdoor dining tables are a particular favorite in the summer, he said.
While Janson's parking lot was filling up quickly on Monday morning, the crowds were expected to increase later in the day. That's when the the drive-in's classic sign on Western Avenue will be relit after two years.
"The neon sign will start flashing as soon as it gets dark," Xing said.