DUNNING — Hundreds of neighbors spilled onto Belmont Avenue on Sunday to celebrate the grand opening of Fizz Eatery and Soda Fountain, a retro diner serving up griddle burgers and malted milkshakes just like the old days.
Teresa Giannini and her fiancé, Mike Fazio, had long envisioned an "old-school, family-friendly diner" for the building they own at 7958 W. Belmont Ave., Giannini said. After a bar ended its lease on the building late last year, the couple decided to take a pass at it.
"The neighborhood hated having a bar here," especially with Guerin College Preparatory High School jut across the street, Giannini said.
"So instead of renting it out, we thought we'd try this concept we had in mind," she added.
Giannini and Fazio set about reshaping the corner property into the picture of 1950s nostalgia, brought to life by a staff of bowtie-and-suspender-clad "soda jerks."
They pour 11 flavors including "green river" and "chocolate phosphate" from a rig that mixes cola syrup with seltzer water on site — a rare process in the 21st century.
"Seeing it happen in front of you is really cool," head chef Joshu Bushnick said. "They're not just picking up a soda gun like at a normal bar and filling a glass — there's actually a little bit of love put into making each of these drinks."
Bushnick, who is also the restaurant's general manager, built the menu around "approachable" food, like chicken wings and mac and cheese, to draw neighborhood kids and their families.
But "approachable" doesn't mean conventional, Bushnick said.
Last year the chef won a burger competition on Food Network's "Cutthroat Kitchen," and he drew up seven original burgers as his victory lap. They feature toppings like Wisconsin brick cheese, root beer barbecue sauce and homemade pickles, all garnishing patties blended from short rib and chuck beef.
The signature Fizz Burger features Wisconsin white brick cheese, grilled onions and "Fizz sauce," which Bushnick described as "like a spicy thousand island dressing." [DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin]
Other eats include Philly cheese steak egg rolls, jumbo Chicago-style hot dogs and ice cream trucked in from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream in Madison, Wis.
Neighbors in Dunning and the nearby suburbs of River Grove and Elmwood Park have been salivating over the menu since the restaurant was announced earlier this year, said Sandra Sugg, an administrative assistant for the Grand Corridor Chamber of Commerce.
"It's not just the kids who are excited," Sugg said. "There are a lot of seniors who, when they hear 'ice cream parlor,' it brings back a lot of memories."
"There's just nothing like it in the neighborhood right now," Sugg added. "I can't remember the last time this area's had an ice cream parlor."
[Fizz Eatery and Soda Fountain]