Fodrak’s recipe for success is happy customers
Libertyville police officer James Finn comes up to the Fodrak's restaurant counter to grab his lunch order.| Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
25th anniversary contest
Fodrak’s is running a contest for a custom guitar to mark is 25th anniversary. Deadline to enter is Saturday, Nov. 24. To get details, visit their website at www.fodraks.com.
Updated: January 14, 2013 4:47PM
LIBERTYVILLE — “It took a couple of years to make the first dollar,” owner Jim Lappas said while sitting at a table inside his restaurant. Today, Fodrak’s is a local favorite and will celebrate its 25th year in business on Dec. 7.
A native of Greece, Lappas didn’t plan to own and run a restaurant. He learned the business working as a waiter while in college at the University of Illinois Chicago campus, He went on to manage a restaurant in Hyde Park and it was then that he started looking for a place of his own.
He opened Fodrak’s in Libertyville in 1987, because he liked that it was a smaller, safer community and far enough from the city. Still, the early years were rough.
“I worked 80-90 hours per week. My wife and family hardly saw me.”
Luckily the hard work paid off and Fodrak’s is now a community institution.
Libertyville resident Amy Stilling recalls being 13 when it opened. When allowed to go off campus for meals in high school, Fodrak’s was the first place she headed. Her family enjoys the restaurant to this day. “Their food is awesome,” Stilling said.
Another local, Casey Karl, agreed. He’s been going to Fodrak’s since he was a kid and got to know Lappas, because, as Karl says, he’s there all the time. His 5-year-old daughter Abby calls Lappas “Jimmy Boy.”
“It’s like an extension of your home. You feel very welcome there,” Karl said.
Lappas would surely agree. When asked to what he attributes his success, he said making people happy is the key. How you make them happy is with quality and consistency, he said.
“If I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t serve it to somebody.”