I'd like to convey a note of remembrance for a great Des Plaines institution that closed its doors a year ago this month.
In my opinion, one of the most important establishments in any kind of town or city is a good local pizzeria. I suppose this stems from the fact that I grew up in Topton, PA, which had a population of just 2,000 people yet had two pizzerias: both were named Tony's, were owned by the same people, and were right around the corner from one another. To me, this unusual anomaly was always the principal factor that made Topton unique, but it also provided something else: a community center-point. I have many fond memories of going to Tony's after Little League games (it was a block or two blocks away from the baseball field, depending on which one you went to), or running to grab some pizzas for the cast and crew of the Drama Club when we had a break in between dress rehearsals in high school. In fact, while providing my mother-in-law with a recent whirlwind tour of Pennsylvania (she'd never been there before), we stopped and ate at Tony's. There, I bumped into a couple old friends (and their new kids) who had moved out of town as well but were back eating at Tony's.
"A place where everybody knows your name" may sound trite, but there's a reason why that phrase is oft repeated (besides the many epsiodes of "Cheers"): a local pizzeria offers familiarity, and with that comes peace and comfort. It also helps if the food is good, too.
When I started working at the library a few years ago, I didn't know Des Plaines very well. However, it only took me a little bit of time before I found the local pizzeria just down the street from the library: Depot Pizzeria at the Sim's Bowl & Lounge. The people there were extremely friendly and made their customers feel welcome. The pizza was great, and it was twice as better on Wednesdays due to it being half the cost.
What made me happiest, however, was seeing families with kids in little league uniforms coming in to the Depot during the summer. The time and location may have changed, but I was glad to see people still held the core values of fun, family, and food. I understand it was a long-standing establishment in the heart of downtown Des Plaines, and I feel lucky to have experienced a part of its tradition. While we are not sure what the future may hold for that particular spot of real estate, I wanted Depot Pizza to be recognized and remembered for the spot that it held in the heart of many Des Plainians. You are missed.