Nine video gambling cafes with friendly names like Stella's Place and Dotty's have opened in the last several weeks from Oak Lawn to Matteson.
These cafes are essentially mini-casinos with each one having the state limit of five video gambling machines.
Des Plaines-based Stella's Place is owned by Laredo Hospitality Ventures, and opened locations last month at Hickory Palos Square mall, 8067 W. 95th St., Hickory Hills, and 8759 S. Ridgeland Avenue, Oak Lawn. A location opened in November at Chicago Ridge Commons. All are open daily from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Dotty's is based in Naperville and in recent weeks has opened at 11015 S. Harlem Ave. in Worth, 6070 W. 159th St. in Oak Forest, 13555 S. Cicero Ave. in Crestwood, 14714 S. Cicero Ave. in Midlothian, and 4740 Lincoln Highway in Matteson. Another location opened last fall at 1066 State St. in Lemont. All are open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Dotty's is working on locations in Homer Glen, Alsip, Country Club Hills, Blue Island, Joliet, Dolton, Romeoville and Lyons.
Dotty's, which got its start in 1992 in Nevada, has big plans for Illinois. CEO Dan Fischer plans to open at least 150 "warm, cozy and inviting cafes, equipped with video gambling machines as opposed to dark bars that are the usual location for machines in Illinois.
"We cater to women," he said. "They like to play at Dotty's because of the atmosphere. It's nothing like a regular bar. Our locations are small, about 1,500 square feet," he said. "They will have liquor licenses, but our emphasis will be more grandma's kitchen than tavern."
Fischer, who hails from Minnesota, last year moved his base of operations to Naperville from Las Vegas.
"I'm a Midwesterner," he said. "We're negotiating another 75 to 80 leases," he said. "I come in and tell the town fathers, 'We don't compete with any businesses in your town. We're a new niche.'"
Smokehouse reopens in mall
Smokehouse restaurant has finished its remodeling and reopened recently in the Chicago Ridge Mall food court in Chicago Ridge.
Mother Butter's Popcorn moves
Mother Butter's Popcorn & Confectionary, which opened in 2009 at 17 W. 35th St. near U.S. Cellular Field, has moved to new digs at 3342 W. 95th St. in Evergreen Park.
The shop, which is owned by Tim and Jennifer Donnelly, has been praised for its gourmet popcorn and also sells fudge, individually hand-dipped caramel pecan patties, bulk candy and nuts.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Andy's Frozen Custard
Now it's official. Although it took a couple of weeks longer than hoped, Andy's Frozen Custard is open at 5745 S. LaGrange Road in Countryside.
The shop delayed the scheduled Jan. 15 opening two weeks because of the brutal winter weather, said company spokesman Todd Arth.
The Missouri-based company had originally hoped to be open in Countryside by May.
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