The iconic Arby’s sign at 5656 S. La Grange Road in Countryside, will go dark forever the night of July 7. Arby’s is closing there and Jack in the Box is moving in (Photo by Steve Metsch)

The iconic Arby’s sign at 5656 S. La Grange Road in Countryside, will go dark forever the night of July 7. Arby’s is closing there and Jack in the Box is moving in (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Jack in the Box to replace Arby’s in Countryside

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By Steve Metsch

Fans of Arby’s in Countryside will have to travel to Downers Grove, Elmhurst and points beyond to get their fix of curly fries and beef sandwiches.

The final day for Arby’s in Countryside is July 7, a manager said Saturday night. Arby’s will be replaced by Jack in the Box, Mayor Sean McDermott said.

“Take a good look. Once we close at 10 (o’clock) tomorrow night, that’s it,” manager Joe Lance said while taking a break in the parking lot around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, as he nodded toward the towering sign shaped like a 10-gallon cowboy hat.

Lance, 58, of Berwyn, said Arby’s officials have not told staff why the Countryside restaurant is closing.

However, McDermott confirmed Saturday that Jack in the Box will replace Arby’s at 5656 S. La Grange Road.

“One icon replacing another,” McDermott said. “Jack in the Box will be a nice addition.”

Lance, the manager since November, said he is being transferred to the Arby’s on Finley Road in Downers Grove. Since he does not own a car, he is glad a bus runs there from Berwyn.

“I enjoyed it. We had fun here,” Lance, a Morton East High School graduate, said of working in Countryside.

Lance said the Arby’s in Hickory Hills at 95th Street and Roberts Road is also closing. He wondered if “the prices for everything going up” plays a role.

“Look at McDonald’s, they’re empty. Taco Bell, they’re empty. Lucky Dog, they’re empty. The Halal Guys, you never see no business in there,” he said of fast food restaurants that line the east side of La Grange Road in Countryside.

A meal deal at Arby’s on Saturday was just over $10 for a beef and cheddar sandwich, curly fries and soft drink.

However, Lance noted that Arby does have loyal customers.

The company “brought the potato cakes back and everybody’s been going nuts for them. They’ve been asking about those since I got here in November.”

Last week, Jack in the Box announced plans to open eight 24-hour restaurants in the area, one in Chicago and seven in the suburbs.

Customer favorites include burgers, tacos, chicken sandwiches, milkshakes, breakfasts and late-night snacks, the company’s web site said.

“They haven’t been in the Chicago area for over 40 years. It’s an iconic chain. It’s nice to see they’re interested in coming to the city of Countryside,” McDermott said earlier Saturday.

According to a story in the Daily Herald, Jack in the Box had 20 restaurants in the Chicago area into the late 1970s, then left the Chicago area in order to focus on locations In the Southwest United States.

“We learned a month ago that they were planning to come to Countryside,” McDermott said.

The fact that Countryside does not levy a municipal property tax on businesses or residents probably attracted Jack in the Box, he said.

“I think that would be very appealing to any business looking to open up in the area,” the mayor said.

Naperville and Plainfield are also targeted by Jack in the Box, the Daily Herald story said.

Another will be near Midway Airport, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a statement in the Daily Herald story, Darin Harris, CEO of Jack in the Box, said: “We’re excited to bring our unique menu where customers can order any item at any time — day or night.”

One thing for certain is jack in the Box will face stiff competition on La Grange Road, where it is practically impossible for anyone to ever go hungry.

With Arby’s closing, there are 22 places to eat, from Buona Beef at Plainfield Road to White Castle near Joliet Road, a stretch less than one mile in length.

Actually, that number is 23 on those weekends when a Rainbow Cone ice cream truck is parked in the Buona Beef parking lot. A woman working in the truck said business had been slow during the day Saturday, but picked up that evening.

According to the Jack in the Box website, the company has approximately 2,200 restaurants across 22 states. The new area locations will offer dine-in, drive-thru, and mobile ordering options and plan to be open 24 hours per day, the site said.

Back at the ill-fated Arby’s on Saturday night, Al Mackey, 71, of La Grange Park, pulled into the lot around 8:45 p.m. and asked Lance if he could use some coupons.

“Long as they’re not expired,” Lance said.

Mackey was saddened and surprised to learn of the closure.

“Aw, jeez. You’re kidding,” Mackey said. “This guy (Lance) is a great guy. He gives me extra ketchups.”

2 Comments

  1. Susan McGrath on July 7, 2024 at 7:44 pm

    Wow! I’m shocked 😳 & happy 😃. Although pleased with Jack In The Box coming back to the area, it is sad that Arby’s seem to be closing all the closer stores. It’s hard to get to the far suburbs to get their iconic beef sandwiches & a Jamoca Shake?

  2. Kathy & Miike Gajos on July 7, 2024 at 11:20 pm

    Long time arbys couple, chgo,munster,lansing,countryside,
    Hickory hills, morris. Just at country side saturday morning. Gonna miss our arby’s fix..

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