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Pappas plans steakhouse on Sycamore Road

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 11:50 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 11:45 p.m. CST
(Monica Maschak -
Developer John Pappas plans to open a steakhouse and bar in the center section of the plaza at 2227 Sycamore Road in DeKalb.

DeKALB – Developer John Pappas plans to open a bar and restaurant called the Ellwood Steakhouse at his development at the former Small’s Furniture City site along Sycamore Road.

The Ellwood Steakhouse would take up 4,200 square feet in the retail center at 2227 Sycamore Road, or about one-third of the building. According to Pappas’ liquor license application, part of the space would be designated a restaurant, while a separate entrance would lead to a bar, accessible only by patrons age 21 and older.

Although Pappas applied for a liquor license from the city of DeKalb to open the restaurant and bar, he hasn’t started any construction at the site yet. If aldermen approve the liquor license, Pappas will have six months to complete his proposed renovations.

Without a liquor license or building permits in place, Pappas said he isn’t releasing any more details.

“It’s way too early,” Pappas said. “I can’t discuss it anymore.”

Pappas received $432,900 in tax increment financing incentives from the city of DeKalb for the $4.2 million development. He has a little more than six years left to pay back the city’s investment through sales and property tax revenues generated by the development.

As part of the agreement, he razed the former Small's Furniture to make way for the 12,950-square-foot strip center. American Mattress, the first tenant, opened in November. Sales tax revenue from American Mattress, however, does not count toward reimbursing the city because it's not listed as one of the designated uses in the contract between Pappas and the city, according to the May 2013 development agreement.

A full-service restaurant was the target tenant for the property and will count toward repaying the sales tax, said Roger Hopkins, the city’s economic development consultant. A fine dining establishment such as the one Pappas has proposed is ideal because it fills a void in DeKalb, Hopkins added.

“I think it’s important to capture that business in the community,” Hopkins said. “A lot of people looking for that dining experience are leaving the area.”

Pappas opened Johnny’s Charhouse at 1950 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore in 1997. He sold the business in 2003, although he still owns the building. The restaurant closed in May 2013, but Texas Roadhouse is on track to open a restaurant there in October. Hopkins doesn’t think the two steakhouses will compete for the same crowd because Texas Roadhouse is a national chain.

“I think it will be really well-received by the community,” Hopkins said.

Pappas' decision to own and manage his own restaurant comes six months after Eggsclusive Cafe owners backed out of opening a restaurant there in January because they were in the middle of opening a Cherry Valley location.

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