GREEKTOWN — A longtime staple of Greektown has closed after more than four decades on Halsted Street.
On May 12, the Pan Hellenic Pastry Shop at 322 S. Halsted announced it was closing after 43 years of serving baklava, bread and assortment of cookies. The shop has a loyal customer base and has attracted its fair share of dignitaries and others, like U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Greek officials.
"To close will be emotional for us, indeed," the owners said in a Facebook post. "We've literally spent our lives at this address and poured our hearts in to our work but it has given us so much in return. We've cultivated the most amazing customer base. With the best taste in food! The relationships and friendships made in this little shop are so precious to us."
The shop was opened by Louie Manalakos, a Greek immigrant, in 1973. He told the Tribune in a 1991 interview that he wanted to open his own shop ever since he worked in a pastry shop in his native Sparta, Greece.
"It's what I always wanted, and I've made a very good business of it," he told the paper proudly.
He died in 2012, and the shop is now run by his wife, Helena, and children, James and Athena.
Greek bread cake with a coin inside was made at the Pan Hellenic Pastry Shop. [Facebook]
In its Facebook post, store owners promised that they would return after a summer of training and vacation. The shop said it planned to open a bigger restaurant in an undisclosed location. The post said it wanted to offer Greek baked goods and pastries but would also add food items — something it was unable to do in its "now rundown building."
“We're going to take the summer off while we develop our menu and start building our new business from the ground up. We need a bit of a rest so we'll be traveling but also taking classes, learning new recipes and methods in order to come back even better,” the Facebook post said.
"We want to emphasize that this is not a goodbye," the post said.
The restaurant shut down previously in 2010, when a fire gutted Costa's restaurant nearby. That caused the bakery to close down for five months, James Makalakos said in an interview posted on Groupon.
A sign on the outside of the shop, whose windows were covered in newspapers, said it was hoping to reopen in late 2017.
A woman who answered the phone for the shuttered bakery said the closing was “bittersweet” for both the owners and community members. The woman, who declined to give her name, said the shop had yet to find a new location. She said owners were unavailable to comment.