Thursday, October 1, 2015

Is McLaughlin eying fulltime job as Orland Park mayor?

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Orland Park Dan McLaughlin is considering switching from a part-time mayor to a full-time mayor to take a more hands-on control of the continued development of the village which has doubled in population during his two decades as the chief executive officer. What would that require?

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania
Ray Hanania
The decision by District 135 President Joe La Margo to resign and take a fulltime $116,000-a-year position as the assistant village manager in Orland Park is not just about the local schools.

It could be the beginning of bigger changes to strengthen and consolidate government in Orland Park.

Several sources have told me they believe Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin will move from being a part-time mayor with an outside job to a full-time mayor focused on shepherding his long-term vision for the village.

Although Mayor McLaughlin did not respond to my inquiries, several sources said McLaughlin has told them and others he plans to make the move. How soon is unknown.

“He said he wants to focus all his energies on continuing the building of Orland Park and the best way to do that would be to become the fulltime mayor,” one Orland Park businessman told me.

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin
Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin

Another source who said the mayor has discussed the move, said it would allow the mayor to personally direct the implementation and or completion of numerous programs and ideas now being implemented or are being considered for the village for the future.

“McLaughlin was made for this job and he should just do it,” another source said.

When I get a chance to interview him, I’ll see if he wants to open up or if he has made any decisions. But in the meantime, the tealeaves seem to be pretty clear about what choices stand before him.

To become a fulltime mayor, the village will have to change its charter. It is uncertain how the move will impact his current position as the influential Executive Director of the powerful Builders Association that he has held for just over two years.

Voters approved Orland as a Village Manager (Managerial) form of government in the Nov. 8, 1983 election, the same year McLaughlin was elected to the board of trustees. He was elected mayor in 1993.

Orland Park is a Village Manager community. In other words, policies are proposed by a part-time mayor, reviewed and approved by a part-time village board, and implemented by a Village Manager and his staff, including now the deputy Village Manager.

The current village manager is Paul Grimes, who has been in his position supervising the implementation of McLaughlin’s vision for the village for the past eight years. La Margo, who previously served as the village deputy clerk, began work as the deputy village manager in July, with Grimes. The two are close and would work together well.

I covered McLaughlin’s 1983 election and recognized then that he had great vision and talent as a community leader and activist. As mayor he has implemented a wide range of successful programs that have helped make Orland Park one of the best communities in the Chicagoland suburbs.

The Orland Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of programs. This from the recent Arts Fair
The Orland Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of programs. This from the recent Arts Fair

It hasn’t helped that Orland Park has the worst public relations of any major suburban Chicagoland community. I say “worse” not in terms of being plagued by negative stories, but rather by the absence of effective PR. Orland Park and McLaughlin have the positive stories. They just don’t get outside of a very narrow circle.

The truth is Orland Park is far better than Naperville, but Orland Park has never managed to position itself at the same light as Naperville, which is the darling of the Chicago media because of effective and constant PR Spin.
That poor PR has held both Orland Park and McLaughlin back from higher ambitions and recognition.

Orland Park has achieved far more than Naperville and McLaughlin is as good or even better than Naperville’s beloved former chief executive, Arthur George Pradel. McLaughlin has served as mayor longer than Pradel, and yet Pradel has always received more accolades.

Band plays at the Orland Park Library, ranked one of the best libraries in the Midwest
Band plays at the Orland Park Library, ranked one of the best libraries in the Midwest

McLaughlin made his mark as a village trustee when he directed the modernization of the Orland Park Police Department. He introduced the D.A.R.E. program to the district’s schools.

But his greatest achievements have been as Orland Park’s mayor.

McLaughlin is a respected member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Southwest Conference of Mayors, Illinois Municipal League and the South Suburban Mayors and Managers. And he currently serves on the Regional Water Supply Planning Group, recently serving as Chairman of a state-wide task force studying a Uniform State Building Code.

Under McLaughlin’s administration the village of Orland Park has made considerable improvements in recreational programs and facilities and community events.

Orland Park hosts the best fireworks display each year during its annual 4th of July celebration
Orland Park hosts the best fireworks display each year during its annual 4th of July celebration

Under his leadership, the Village has implemented creative solutions to road improvements to ease traffic congestion. The village is undergoing one of the largest road improvement programs involving the widening of La Grange Road, one of the most trafficked roads of any municipality in Northern Illinois.

He hasn’t given up on the Police Department and has improved public safety with a larger Police Department, new police station and increased training and technology.

McLaughlin also has developed a unique program to protect the region’s environment, directing a nationally recognized $25 million “Open Lands Program,” as well as implementing community arts and developing the village’s Green Initiative.

Orland Park’s numerous community improvement programs have won numerous awards, resulting in being named recently as one of America’s most livable cities by Money Magazine.

Orland Park Police Department
Orland Park Police Department

The conversion from part-time to full-time mayor does not necessarily mean that the village would eliminate the position of Village Manager, but it could mean that the position would be changed to chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.

But McLaughlin has probably given up on his personal ambition to seek higher statewide office, but he has not given up on Orland Park.

You can get more information on McLaughlin from his own website at www.mayordanmclaughlin.com or from the village website at www.OrlandPark.org.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. He is a columnist with the Palos Reporter, the Regional News, Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News. Email him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Local residents wondering about Village Square Lake land

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One of the nice aspects of Village Square in Orland Park is the beautiful lake at Village Square Park, surrounded by Windsor Drive, Kensington Way, and Regent Drive. The lake is sizable and includes an area for flood control to the south that leads up to the children's park area, on a higher area about three feet above lake level.

For years, there were two ways to access the lake. One from the park not he south end off of Windsor Drive, (which winds east and west on the south end of the park and north and south on the east side of the park). And, through a small patch of land along Kensington Way on the north side of the lake.

This week, the homeowner (adjacent to a plot of land that many residents thought was village-owned land and a part of the public lake) installed a metal fence around that triangle of grass adjacent to their property.

Although neighbors always thought that section of the land was public property owned by the village, it turns out it is land owned by the homeowner. Up until a few weeks ago, there was a sign posted by the Village of Orland Park that reminded dog walkers to pick up their dog's waste, suggesting it was public access.

View of lake and land area to the west of the home at
Village Square Park Lake

Fishermen used to use the small access area to sit by the lakeshore and fish, while enjoying the many Canadian Geese, ducks and a few tall, white Egrets that have made the little lake their home, too.

Last year in September, the home was sold (according to Zillow.com). And apparently someone discovered the little piece of land didn't belong to the village of Orland Park after all. It belonged to the homeowner.

This week, the homeowner installed a metal fence blocking access through their private property to the 250,000 lake from surrounding the grassy triangle area.

Fence now up around the homeowners property,
view from Kensington Way

Village officials indicated there had been a misunderstanding of the ownership of the property and they removed the Village sign.

"Clearly, the land belongs to the homeowner and over the years there was a belief that it was a public strip of land," an Orland Park Village official said Wednesday. "There is still access to this beautiful lake for the public. But the land in question definitely does belong to the homeowner."

END

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No injuries at Orland Home seriously damaged by fire

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No injuries at Orland Home seriously damaged by fire


Lightning suspected, officials said. The family was on vacation


The Orland Fire Protection District responded to a fire reported in a home located on the 108th block of West Scarlet Drive in Orland Park early Wednesday morning.


The fire was reported at about 2:46 am on Wednesday July 29, 2015 and initial arriving fire companies found heavy fire had spread through the attic and roof areas of the 5,000 square foot residential home. Firefighters reported that heat radiating from the blaze was extensive.

OFPD Chief Ken Brucki said that firefighters immediately went into a defensive position to get the fire under control preventing any injuries.

“This fire had a tremendous amount of heat and it concerned us,” Brucki said. “We were concerned about structures around the property and took appropriate precautions to keep nearby properties safe.”

Brucki said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

“Crews were able to conduct a rapid primary search to confirm there were no occupants in the property at the time, and we were able to verify that the family was vacationing,” Brucki said.

The alarm was elevated to a full still to bring in additional companies.  A total of two aerial master streams and five large diameter hand-lines were required to extinguish the fire. 

The structure suffered major fire damage to the entire roof and extensive damage to the interior of the structure from fire, smoke, and water. 

It took approximately an hour to bring the fire under control. 

Brucki said one possible cause of the fire may be lightning noting “there was a tremendous amount of lightning in the area at approximately the same time of the fire.”

Brucki also said that the fire department was able to deploy a drone to assist in quickly identifying the fire location on the home.

“It was a very large home and the drone helped give us an immediate, aerial view of the property and the fire,” Brucki said.  “The aerial view assisted the Battalion Chief to direct suppression efforts to bring the fire under control.”




VIDEO:
 

Drone Video Link



Drone still Pic’s Links

end

Village of Orland Park to Host 12th Annual Taste of Orland Park - July 31 to August 2

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Village of Orland Park to Host 12th Annual Taste of Orland Park - July 31 to August 2, 2015

A Village of Orland Park summer favorite, the Taste of Orland Park, will return July 31 to August 2, 2015 at the Orland Park Village Center, 14700 South Ravinia Avenue.

Now in its twelfth year, the Taste of Orland Park showcases Orland Park eateries, community organizations, event sponsors, and offers a number of activities, including Kids’ Day, a car show and live entertainment on two stages.

The Taste of Orland Park will be held Friday, July 31 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, August 1 from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, August 2 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission and parking are free with participating restaurants selling tastes of signature dishes at individual food booths.



“We look forward to the Taste of Orland Park every year,” said Mayor Dan McLaughlin. “It is a summer favorite for everyone and this year will be no exception. This is a great way to learn more about and taste the different dishes from Orland Park restaurants, learn about our wonderful community groups and enjoy a great entertainment-filled weekend,” the mayor said.

Participating Orland Park eateries include 94 West Grille and Tavern, Beggars Pizza, Blissful Banana Café, The Brass Tap, Café Gaston, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, El Famous Burrito, El Pueblito, Granite City Food & Brewery, Mo’s Chinese Kitchen, Oberweis Dairy, Orland Park Bakery, Palermo’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, Papa Joe’s Italian Restaurant, Q Restaurant, Riviera Country Club, RoccoVino’s Italian Restaurant, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Square Celt Ale House and Grill, and Wooden Paddle Pizza.

A number of food items food items will be sold including, fried goat cheese and gluten free gelato from Wooden Paddle Pizza and fish and chips and candied beer bacon from Square Celt Ale House and Grill. Select restaurants are alcohol vendors with soft drinks and water being available for purchase from all participating restaurants.

“There are so many great things about the Taste of Orland Park,” said Trustee Patricia Gira, chair of the village’s Recreation and Parks Committee. “The food, the activities, the people and the entertainment, among other things, are what make it such a great weekend for everyone to enjoy.”

A variety of musical talents will perform on two stages throughout the weekend. The main stage will have Nick Lynch of American Idol and Trippin’ Billies perform on Friday, July 31, Dr. Rock, The Chicago Kingsnakes and 7th Heaven perform on Saturday, August 1 and The Lowdown Brass Band, Tumbling Dice and American English perform on Sunday, August 2.

Kid’s Day will be held at the adjacent John Humphrey Sports Complex Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A number of free games, activities and programs will be held for kids of all ages. The Annual Taste of Orland Park Car Show will be held at the Humphrey Complex on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. Orland Park’s Got Talent live finals will be held on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Stage.

The Orland Park Lions Club will host Bingo inside the Civic Center on Saturday and the Orland Park Kiwanis Club will do the same on Sunday, with both events starting at 1 p.m.

Taste of Orland Park sponsors include The University of Chicago Medicine, The Orland Park Prairie, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., Mercedes Benz of Orland Park, JamesHardie, Brannigan Chiropractic Center, Bear Home Improvements, Inc., ComEd, Illinois Energy Windows & Siding, Inc., Saint Xavier University, Moraine Valley Community College and Xfinity.

For more information, visit the Taste page on the village's website or call the Village of Orland Park Recreation Department at 708/403-7275. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gorman leaves Cook County office at top of her public service

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Gorman leaves Cook County office at top of her public service

Popular Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman shocked the public Wednesday when she resigned her county board seat to take a position with a major Fortune 100 Chicago corporation as director of Government Affairs. The District’s GOP Committeemen will meet to select a successor but the leading candidate is Gorman’s closest political ally, Palos Township Committeeman Sean Morrison. Gorman’s announcement came after announcing she would not criticize but could not support Preckwinkle’s 1 Percent Sales Tax increase, which passed 9 of 17 votes

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania, City Hall Reporter, (1976-1992)
Ray Hanania City Hall Reporter
1976-1992
Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman announced Wednesday she will resign her county board seat effective next week after declining to support a controversial one percent sales tax increase proposal introduced by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The sales tax increase was adopted following six hours of debate and public testimony at a special meeting of the Cook County Board held Wednesday (July 15, 2015), with 9 votes in favor, 7 votes against and 1 vote (Gorman) present.
Gorman, who championed the fight against the sales tax increase proposed by former Board President Todd Stroger, told the board that there is a major difference between Stroger and Preckwinkle. But she could not support the sales tax hike proposal, she said.
On December 1, 2009 Commissioner Gorman successfully led the effort to roll-back Stroger’s proposed Cook County’s sales tax increase, and override Stroger’s veto. The move cut the county sales tax from 1.75 percent to 1.25 percent.
Gorman heaped praise on Preckwinkle arguing the Board President has done everything possible to avoid raising taxes, and has already helped to shore up the county’s finances since Preckwinkle’s election on Feb. 2, 2010, when she unseated Stroger.
“Madame President, you have proactively faced and tried to resolve the county’s pension crisis when predecessors neglected to. You were left no favors. Five years of substantive reform under your leadership has put Cook County on a strong path but the reality of the unfunded pension liabilities have put us in this position today… between a Rock and a Hard Place,” Gorman said, calling comparisons of Preckwinkle to Stroger as “irresponsible.”
“Having wrestled with as to what is the best vote for the District and Cook County government, it has been a very conflicting decision to make. This is a difficult vote no matter which side of this issue you are on – No commissioner should be criticized. With that said – I will vote Present.”
2015 Cook County Board members: Standing: Larry Suffredin, Greg Goslin, Jerry Butler, Robert Steele, President Toni Preckwinkle, John Daley, Jesus Garcia, Peter Silvestri, John Fritchey, Stanley Moore. Seated: Richard Boykin, Jeffrey Tobolski, Joan Patricia Murphy, Deborah Sims, Liz Gorman, Bridget Gainer, Tim Schneider, Luis Arroyo Jr
2015 Cook County Board members: Standing: Larry Suffredin, Greg Goslin, Jerry Butler, Robert Steele, President Toni Preckwinkle, John Daley, Jesus Garcia, Peter Silvestri, John Fritchey, Stanley Moore. Seated: Richard Boykin, Jeffrey Tobolski, Joan Patricia Murphy, Deborah Sims, Liz Gorman, Bridget Gainer, Tim Schneider, Luis Arroyo Jr
The tax vote and her decision to resign were unrelated, Gorman told the county board following the sales tax debate. But Southwest Suburbanites were in shock at learning that Gorman, one of the most popular elected officials in the region, had decided to step down at a time when her popularity has never been higher.
After the sales tax was approved
Liz Gorman, Bruce Rauner, Sean Morrison in March 2014
Liz Gorman, Bruce Rauner, Sean Morrison in March 2014
“On a personal note – I will be resigning this seat that I have been so fortunate to serve effective July 20. An opportunity in the private sector has been offered and I have accepted, as this will require my full attention,” Gorman said after explaining her “present” vote on the Preckwinkle Sales tax increase.

“I would like to thank you Madame President for bringing distinguished leadership to this board, and for your friendship. Cook County has benefitted greatly by your efforts over the last five years and will continue to do so far into the future. To my board colleagues, both past and present, I will miss each and every one of you. And the respect and camaraderie we shared, as well as the disagreements and debates. I have learned so much and respect your insights and opinions.”
Gorman will take a position with a Fortune 100, big ten accounting firm as Director of Government Affairs beginning on July 20. Republican Committeeman in the 17th Cook County District will have to meet to name a successor.
Palos Township Republican Committeeman Sean Morrison, one of Gorman’s closest political allies, is considered the frontrunner to succeed Gorman. Morrison worked closely with Gorman on building support against the Stroger sales tax increase, in introducing reforms to the Cook County Board, and laying the political groundwork to help position businessman Bruce Rauner to win the Republican Party nomination for governor and then to go on to defeat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
Rauner’s biggest mistake was not bringing Gorman into his administration after his election, although Gorman has remained loyal to both Rauner and the Republican Party. She was also viewed as a political centrist and maintained close ties to key Democrats including County Commissioner John Daley, and others.
Gorman leaves office at a high point in a career and will be remembered as a champion of taxpayer rights. She fought hard to defend the rights of residents of suburban Cook County who were often marginalized by the dominance of Chicago municipal politics and needs.
First elected in November 2002, Gorman was re-elected in 2006, 2010, in 2014. In the March 18, 2014 Republican Primary, Gorman fought off a primary challenge and defeated her opponent by nearly 60% of the vote to advance to the General Election on November 7, 2014, where she was re-elected to her fourth term with an overwhelming victory margin.
When the new term began on December 1, 2014, Gorman was chosen as the Committee Chairperson of the Environmental Control Committee and Vice Chairperson of the Roads and Bridges Committee, Rules and Administration Committee and the Technology and Innovation Committee.
Gorman is also the Chairman of the Suburban Caucus of the County board and a member of 10 additional committees: Audit; Criminal Justice; Business and Economic Development; Finance; Health and Hospitals, Homeland Security; Legislation; North Suburban METRA Nominating Committee; Northwest Suburban METRA Nominating Committee; Southwest Suburban METRA Nominating Committee and Zoning and Building.
During her time on the Cook County Board, Gorman has opposed the “Hotel Occupancy Tax” and the “Food and Beverage Tax” in 2003, the 150% cigarette tax increase in 2004 and the additional 100% increase in 2006. She opposed the “Food and Beverage Tax” and the “Hotel Occupancy Tax” again in 2007, and she opposed the “Sanctuary County” resolution for illegal immigrants in 2007 and sponsored a repeal of the ordinance later that year and most recently she voted against Board President Todd Stroger’s 2008 budget and opposed the increase in the Cook County sales tax.

Here are Gorman’s prepared remarks that she presented to the Cook County Board this morning:

Gorman on Sales Tax:
This is a very difficult vote we’re considering today and I respect both sides of the sales tax debate. I know the President and her administration did not come to this sales tax proposal lightly.
Madame President, you have proactively faced and tried to resolve the county’s pension crisis when predecessors neglected to. You were left no favors.
Five years of substantive reform under your leadership has put Cook County on a strong path but the reality of the unfunded pension liabilities have put us in this position today… between a Rock and a Hard Place.
Much effort, energy and resolve was put forth to rescind the previous administration’s Sales Tax. I know that as well as anyone on this board; and the reasons for doing so still stand today.
The blanket comparison of this proposal to the Stroger Sales Tax and the maligning of the President and her administration that has been made by some people are nothing short of irresponsible.
It’s unfortunate that some people have chosen to overlook and completely ignore the accomplishments over the past five years of this President and this board.
We have made significant strides in the areas of reform, accountability, transparency, payroll and head count reduction, cutting bloat and wasteful spending, incorporating quantifiable measures, integrating new technology, streamlining county government from top to bottom. And contrary to a few reports in the media, we continue to do so each and every month.
Others have said, “Let’s wait for Springfield…” We’ve been waiting on Springfield for well over a year as our Pension Reform bill languishes down there. Waiting for pension reform in Springfield comes with a $30 million dollar a month “Wait & See” price tag. Can we afford that?
After having led the repeal of the previous sales tax; I am very aware of the loss of our border tax revenues and the impact tax increases can have on local businesses and residents. I’ve been steadfast in my opposition during my time in office.
So as we weigh this important decision on the long-term financial health and solvency of Cook County government, and regardless of today’s outcome, I’m confident this administration and this board will continue to move Cook County government forward in an efficient and effective manner.
Having wrestled with as to what is the best vote for the District and Cook County government, it has been a very conflicting decision to make. This is a difficult vote no matter which side of this issue you are on – No commissioner should be criticized. With that said – I will vote Present.
Gorman on Resignation:
On a personal note – I will be resigning this seat that I have been so fortunate to serve effective July 20. An opportunity in the private sector has been offered and I have accepted, as this will require my full attention.
I would like to thank you Madame President for bringing distinguished leadership to this board, and for your friendship. Cook County has benefitted greatly by your efforts over the last five years and will continue to do so far into the future.
To my board colleagues, both past and present, I will miss each and every one of you. And the respect and camaraderie we shared, as well as the disagreements and debates. I have learned so much and respect your insights and opinions.
It’s been an honor and privilege to serve alongside all of you in this distinguished body. My nearly 13 years on this board have been some of the most rewarding of my life.
Thank you and god bless you all.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Support the Orland Park Library

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Support the Orland Par Library

They have been targeted by out-of-town extremists who want to impose their views on the library and the Orland Park community. 

The critics exaggerated claims about pornography cost the taxpayers a lot of wasted money. If they want to change this country's and state's laws regarding censorship and free speech, they should take their fight to the State and the Federal Government and change the laws. But they can't, so the critics bully people. 

Keep up the GREAT WORK Orland Park Library. The MAJORITY of Orland residents support what you are doing and recognize the extremists for what they really are. 

LIKE the Orland Park Library today https://www.facebook.com/orlandparklibrary


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Q Restaurant in Orland Park offers a unique dining experience

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Q Restaurant in Orland Park offers a unique dining experience

By Ray Hanania

Q Restaurant in Orland Park is a new Asian fusion that offers a mix of Vietnamese and French cuisine. The design of the restaurant's dining room is very impressive and the food is even better. It not only offers a phenomenal menu of meal selections and appetizers, it also offers Martinis of all sorts.


As we ate, in the background, the restaurant was playing French music that gave it an atmosphere of being in the 1950s.

The service was attentive but not annoying. The waiter was very professional and courteous.

We ordered Shrimp rolls with bacon, mozzarella, and sriracha pineapple sauce. Sriracha sauce is a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt and is named after the city of Si Racha in Thailand.

It was great.

I ordered a bowl of Noodle Soup which was so good I could have just had that for the luncheon meal. It was packed with tasty chicken and a variety of Asian veggies. It also comes with Tofu instead of chicken.

Our dinner consisted of two plates from the dinner menu, which the restaurant offers as an option during lunch. I had the lobster and shrimp dinner and Alison had Seafood Lover which offers an assortment of blue sea scallop, shrimp, crab meat, calamari, crunchy noodle, herbal brandy red curry sauce.

I also tasted the coconut Martini. It tasted so nice. I'm not a big Martini drinker, but I did sip it during the meal.

The dining room really set the stage for a great dinner. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you are impressed. It reflects that kind of colonial Vietnamese culture that was common prior to the devastating war of the 1960s. It was so enjoyable. And perfect.

Q Restaurant
11379 West 159th Street
Orland Park, IL., 60462
708-966-2179

They also offer live music performances on specific dates. Check with the restaurant. Click here for their Facebook Page.

Enjoy these photos of the restaurant and the meal.









(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. He is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News www.TheArabDailyNews.com and Illinois News Network online www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com. Reach him at rghanania@gmail.com.)