MORGAN PARK — Danny Maali emerged from a cloud of dust inside of Nicky's Drive-Thru in Morgan Park on Monday.
Maali was checking on the progress of a worker busy resurfacing the floors of the restaurant at 11500 S. Western Ave.
When the dust settles, Maali plans to open Snappers Fish & Chicken — a family owned restaurant that borrows much of its concept from a successful chain in Miami.
"Its top seller is a whole snapper fish," said Maali, adding that both grilled and fried varieties of the signature dish will be available.
Maali is a resident of south suburban Tinley Park. He plans to put a fresh coat of paint on the restaurant after the floors are finished as well as replace the ceiling tiles, upgrade the furniture and remodel the kitchen before opening.
He's hoping to open Snappers in about a month.
The new restaurant replaces Nicky's, which operated from the busy corner of 115th Street and Western Avenue for 21 years and boasted of having "The Best Gyro Anywhere."
Owner K. Gus Assimakopoulos closed Nicky's in late June after his doctors recommended a double hip replacement after a bad car accident in 2012 in Indiana.
Maali is excited for the new development and expects to feed plenty of hungry hockey players and gymnasts. And he plans to hire about five to seven workers from the surrounding neighborhood to help.
The new restaurateur is no stranger to running a business. For the past year, Maali has operated the Frankfort Auto Exchange in far suburban Frankfort. He's also previously operated a car dealership at 127th Street and Halsted Street in West Pullman.
Maali also owned the Citgo gas station at 127th and Wood streets in Calumet Park.
As for his latest business venture, he promised plenty of tasty food and a menu with something for everyone.
"We'll have lots of healthy stuff on the menu, too," he said.
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