Flipping over pancake house
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent December 30, 2011 1:48PM
Phyllis Wade of Hammond, Ind., enjoys breakfast at Loubie's Pancake House in Hammond. The new restaurant, near 165th Street and Columbia Avenue, opened about a month ago. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
IF YOU GO
What: Loubie’s Pancake House
Where: 1229 165th St.,
Hammond (at Menards Plaza)
Hours: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Updated: February 3, 2012 8:06AM
While growing up in New Jersey, Minas Litos learned all aspects of running a business while working in his father’s restaurant. But he never thought of owning his own, until fate stepped in when he met his wife Soula.
“My father-in-law owned restaurants in northwest Indiana and we became involved. Eventually I bought one of them,” he said. “Everything I know now I learned from my father and my father-in-law.”
Two more eateries followed, and now Loubie’s, in the Menards Plaza in Hammond, is his newest venture.
“We chose Hammond because I feel it is an up-and-coming city. The leadership is very good,” he added. “We want to be one of the groups that foresaw the future — pointing to the trend of the city.”
Customers Lilly Roth and Velma Martin live in the east Hammond neighborhood right around the corner from Loubie’s.
“We were so worried when Murphy’s and Blockbuster left,” Roth said, referring to the two previous businesses in the location. “This building has been empty for a long time and it was starting to look bad. Now, this looks all fresh and new!”
Martin said the sad state of the previously empty building was magnified when nearby Menards turned into a “superstore” last year, more than doubling its size.
“Now our area is looking great. There’s a little strip mall and this plaza is a good thing for many of us seniors who have to walk places,” Roth said.
The ladies said they plan to try something new from Loubie’s menu each time they visit, which will be at least three times a week.
“We’re through cooking. Our families are grown and we like to go out to eat,” Martin said with a laugh.
Litos’ sons Elias and Ippo and daughter Rinoula also assist in the management of the new restaurant, which employs 38 full-time employees.
Fixing up the 4,500-square-feet building took six weeks.
“We had major, major remodeling,” Litos said. “It was challenging — about what we expected, except for a water line concern for the sprinkling system.”
Customers Linda Lindeman and Sharon Tyler, both of Highland, happened to be at a nail salon in the plaza when they heard about the new eatery.
“This is becoming a go-to area. We’re here at least a few times a week, so adding a pancake house makes a lot of sense,” Tyler said. “Everyone loves new choices.”
Lindeman noted that the entire restaurant is nonsmoking. “That’s a plus for everybody.”
Plans for the other side of the rehabbed building aren’t concrete, the owner said. “We might consider catering.”