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Pal Joey’s in Batavia: Shop Gets Loan, Liquor License For Downtown Location

The West Chicago Italian restaurant will expand to downtown Batavia this year. The Batavia City Council voted on some items for the business on Monday night.

A West Chicago restaurant staple will have a downtown Batavia location as early as next month.

Pal Joey’s will open its second store in the former Fox’s on the River location at 31 N. River St. by a working date of late June.

The Batavia City Council voted Monday to approve a Tax Increment Finance, or TIF, Redevelopment Agreement for Pal Joey’s. The agreement includes a grant of $25,000 under the city’s Downtown Improvement Grant Program, and a loan of up to $75,000.

City Council aldermen also voted in favor of a liquor license for the shop.

“(City of Batavia) Staff views Pal Joey’s as a potential restaurant anchor for the North River Street district and the City’s financial support is essential for this development to take place,” according to a May 18 city memo to the aldermen.

John Hamel, Pal Joey’s owner and Batavia resident, spoke to the Council on Monday about the renovations needed to bring the building to Pal Joey’s standards.

The new restaurant will have an extended bar with an open concept layout. The restaurant owners have cleaned the patio area and will be planting flowers.

The restaurant, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary, plans to hire 40-45 employees.

Pal Joey’s will feature the same Italian-American menu that is popular in West Chicago. The restaurant is best known for its pan-style pizza, but also serves pasta, ribs, salads and gluten-free options.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said he has received positive feedback from the community.

“I’m sure people will be rushing in there to test you out … and that will bring you even more business,” he said on Monday during the Council meeting.

Money Makes A Difference

Without the redevelopment agreement, Hamel would not have been able to open the Batavia location. Bringing the River Street location up to snuff will require about $236,000 worth of improvements, $130,000 of which will be paid for by private capital and other investments. The redevelopment plan with the city will help pay for the difference.

The $75,000 loan that's part of the plan would be repaid in a 5-year term with a 3.5 percent interest rate, according to the city memo.

A Developing Downtown

Hamel is excited to open his business in the midst of the . North River Street will look dramatically different later this year with an archway entrance off of Wilson Street, brick pavers, outdoor eating and a more pedestrian-friendly environment.

River Street north of Wilson Street is currently closed to traffic. The project is scheduled to be complete by mid-October 2012. Parking is still available for River Street businesses in the immediate adjacent areas outside the construction.

Pal Joey’s joins these restaurants, bars and coffee shops that have opened in downtown Batavia in the past year, including:

  • , 35 N. Water St. (formerly )
  • , 3 S. Batavia Ave., (formerly Ona's On The Avenue)
  • , 90 N. Island Ave.
  • Rhino Room, 15 E. Wilson St. (formerly )
  • Wilson Street Tavern, 105 E. Wilson St. (formerly )

For more news on Batavia businesses, visit batavia.patch.com/business.

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