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Beverly Woods Restaurant Closes After 63 Years On Western Avenue

By Howard Ludwig | September 18, 2017 4:14pm | Updated on September 18, 2017 6:43pm
 The Beverly Woods Restaurant and Banquets closed Sunday. The owner said it was impossible to market the property without turning off customers.
The Beverly Woods Restaurant and Banquets closed Sunday. The owner said it was impossible to market the property without turning off customers.
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DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

MORGAN PARK — It's nearly impossible to sell a banquet hall and keep the business afloat, said Bill McGann, owner of Beverly Woods.

McGann said customers are reluctant to book events if they are worried that ownership could change or that the business might close.

So McGann opted to close the banquet hall that has been in his family for 63 years.

Sunday marked the final day of operation for the restaurant, banquet hall and bar at 11532 S. Western Ave. in Morgan Park, McGann, 67, said Monday.

"We love the neighborhood," he said. "We just decided it is time for us to move on. We want to do some other things with the time we have left."

McGann said his children — Margaret and Jack — aren't interested in taking over the business that he and his brother bought from their father in 1977. He said evening and weekend hours made the family business a tough sell.

He also said the Beverly Woods is in need of upgrades. Cosmetic improvements are long overdue. There are also bigger renovations needed, including modernizing the electrical and computer systems and investing in the building's heating and air conditioning.

McGann estimates these improvements will cost around $500,000. Thus, he has priced the 15,000-square-foot facility at $1.29 million, which he believes would allow a buyer to purchase the property and pay for the upgrades.

"If I was 35 years old, I wouldn't blink. I would just put my head down and do it," McGann said of the necessary investments. "We are still a very viable business."

Chuck Groebe, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, welcomed all potential buyers, including those who might want to knock down Beverly Woods and redevelop the property.

After all, the Beverly Woods sits on nearly a full acre of land and stretches nearly 450 feet along a busy stretch of Western Avenue, Grobe said Monday.

"We are willing to look at any reasonable offer," he said.

McGann said it would be difficult to see the building knocked down or sitting empty. He still thinks of the Beverly Woods as an extension of his own home, where friends and family gather to eat, drink and socialize.

In fact, he told the designers of McGann's Pub, located inside the sprawling banquet hall, to make the bar look like something someone might build in their basement. He believed this sort of familiar atmosphere would resonate with customers.

But the business has changed, McGann said. Younger families don't go out as often. When they do, customers spend less — particularly at the bar, he said.

The growing cost of doing business also contributed to the decision to close Beverly Woods, McGann said. He pointed to rising food costs, property tax hikes, the cost of insurance, mandatory minimum wage increases and Cook County's beverage tax among factors driving his costs higher.

"It's all these little things that just keep going up and going up," said McGann, who added that he held prices steady despite these rising costs for about five years before passing them on to customers.

Part of the reason for holding the line was because many of his clients were repeat customers. It's also for this reason that he refunded all deposits on upcoming banquets and tried to give customers as much notice as possible.

"We wanted to go out in a classy way," he said.

Scott Smith of Morgan Park has relied on Beverly Woods to host his quarterly reading series called The Frunchroom since July 26, 2016. The series aimed at offering a voice to South Siders will find a new venue for its Oct. 3 event.

"We are very sorry to hear about the closing of Beverly Woods Restaurant and Banquet. The McGann family was a gracious host during our time there, and we had some great shows in this wonderful space," Smith said.

Meanwhile, McGann said a humane society agreed to care for about a dozen doves that lived near the north entrance of the banquet hall. And he's not quite sure what will happen with the Beverly Wood's recipe for dinner rolls.

McGann typically sold 12,000 of the dinner rolls on Thanksgiving Day. He kept the recipe in his wallet. It was given to his family in 1963 by a chef who was a religious brother at a Catholic military academy in Indiana. The chef was in love and planned to leave religious life to pursue the woman of his dreams.

Tom McGann offered the chef a job in exchange for the bread recipe. The job allowed the chef to seek out his heartthrob, and the recipe soon supplanted the Beverly Woods' own garlic bread.

The rest is history — as now is the Beverly Woods.

"We had a great run," McGann said.