Despite a less than stellar economy, two restaurants – an Asian eatery and a fast food outfit – recently opened in the city after the owners decided that Park Ridge was the place for them.
Melina Ovassapian, owner of Frosty Penguin Grill, came back to Park Ridge to open up a family-focused restaurant that serves an array of food, including burgers, hotdogs, salads and frozen treats.
She grew up in Skokie and spent her younger years working in Park Ridge at her mother's soft serve ice cream shop at that same location, she said.
Because of her fond childhood memories, she wanted to come back to the city, she said.
"Park Ridge is a great place to be. For instance, we opened just two months ago and we already have regulars," said Ovassapian who now lives in Libertyville. "People care a lot about each other and it's very family friendly. "
Her mother opened her shop at 1056 Busse Highway in 1980. She closed it in 1999 when she retired but kept the stand-alone building that she owned, Ovassapian said.
During the last 12 years, other restaurants came and went at that location. After the last one closed about six months ago, Ovassapian decided she'd give it a go.
Ovassapian came up with the Frosty Penguin Grill name after she sat down and wrote a list of names that sounded family-friendly. She came up with Frosty Penguin, denoting the family-focused angle that she wanted for her new business. She later added the "grill" part of the name because she wanted customers to know she sells more than just ice cream, she said.
Shortly after Frosty Penquin moved into town, Bangkok Belly, located at 650 N. Northwest Highway, arrived.
Unlike Ovassapian who spent many years working the city, Bangkok owners, who run two other restaurants in Chicago, never had worked in the suburbs, said Ed Pheomthawee, Bankok's manager. But they liked the location, so they moved into the vacant spot in a strip mall along Northwest Highway, he said.
Park Ridge patrons at Bankok Belly, which specializes in Thai and Chinese food, stand in sharp contrast to their city counterparts, he said.
"People are really nice here. They aren't in such a hurry," Pheomthawee said. "People in the city eat and go. They want their check in a hurry. But here, people spend time and relax."
Bangkok Belly owners hope to open two more restaurants in Des Plaines and Norwood Park. They opened their first Bankok Belly about 10 years ago in Chicago, he said.
Bangkok Belly replaced a Chinese cuisine resturant called Jade House that closed after being in Park Ridge for many years, he said.