Staples keep bringing diners back to Libertyville eatery
By Tina Johansson Special to The News-Sun November 1, 2012 4:14PM
Libertyville 10/24/12 Fodrak's restaurant line cook Luis "Luigi" Garcia of Waukegan makes a gyro for a lunch order. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Fodrak’s Great Gyros & Ribs
327 S. Milwaukee Ave.
Updated: November 1, 2012 4:14PM
LIBERTYVILLE — Dining at Fodrak’s could be music to your ears.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary at the place, owner Jim Lappas is giving away an electric guitar bearing the Fodrak’s logo.
A big celebration is planned for Dec. 7, when the winner of a Peavey SC-1 electric guitar will be announced at 2 p.m. Contestants need to fill out an entry form, and can get a copy by visiting www.fodraks.com and connecting to Fodrak’s Facebook page.
Participants are asked to describe in 50 words or less why they feel they should have the guitar. The contest will run through Nov. 24 and entries need to be postmarked no later than that date.
Giveaways at the anniversary party include hooded sweatshirts, food and other prizes.
Libertyville officials, including Mayor Terry Weppler, are slated to come and cut the cake, said the Lappas.
“I honestly didn’t think it would last this long,” he said. Lappas purchased the former hot dog eatery in 1987. The name of the place is the name of the former owner — Kardof, spelled backwards.
While the place has changed over the years — it has a larger menu and it has been remodeled several times — the quality and service has remained steadfast. Customers enjoy seeing Lappas, a native of Greece, mingle in the dining room regularly.
The owner isn’t the only popular thing at the place. From the time the doors open, it is buzzing with activity — orders are being taken and cooks are churning out the many popular items, including delicious homemade soup, fresh Greek salad, mouth-watering barbecued ribs, scrumptious shrimp, award-winning gyros, homemade baklava and ice cream creations.
Catering is also big at Fodrak’s.
Several years ago, after his teenage son Kosta was diagnosed with cancer, Lappas began changing his eating habits, he said. It was hard when Kosta died at the tender age of 15, but Lappas was adamant about upping the health of his food preparation at the restaurant to reflect his beliefs.
Now, his fresh-cut french fries are cooked in non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. The salads at Fodrak’s are no longer made with iceberg lettuce, but “more nutritious” Romaine, instead. There are leaner cuts of meat.
“In fact, our boneless pork chop is the same amount of calories as our chicken,” said Lappas. The chicken is no longer fried, but baked or grilled.
Burgers once made with regular ground beef are now made with Black Angus beef.
Diners are always impressed when they can see a Fodrak’s staple — Greek chicken and Greek potatoes — up at the counter through a glass case which the owner installed six years ago.
Lappas likes to say that some of the items on the menu are “just like mama used to make.” And it’s no wonder.
He explained he learned cooking as a child after watching his mom, Vasiliki, who is known as “Vicky.” When his mother was working long hours as a seamstress in Chicago, Lappas and his brother, Paul, would help prepare dinner for the family.
The owner’s daughter, Vicky, a teacher, and his granddaughter, Venetia (also the name of Lappas’ wife) come in to the place as often as possible.