SCHERERVILLE | With many of their customers coming from south county, Dina and Harry Les decided that was where they should expand their business They opened Pancake Club in October, almost a decade after opening Les Brothers, their Highland restaurant, and a full 38 years after the first "Les Brothers" eatery was established by Harry in Oak Lawn, Ill.
"We're very famous for our breakfasts," Dina said. "A lot of our customers were coming to Highland from Schererville. So we wanted to serve them and others in that area. Indiana people have supported us since we opened in Highland 10 years ago."
Both restaurants are open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, including holidays.
The Leses were considering expanding when the owners of the strip mall, where their 100-seat Schererville restaurant is now located, came to the Les Brothers restaurant in Highland and talked about a space they had available. When the strip mall owners learned of the Leses expansion plans, they encouraged the Leses to take it over and make it over, Dina said.
"It was a good location," she said. "There have been restaurants there before, but the place needed a lot of work,"
They spent more than $60,000 to clean, renovate and equip the space before opening. They secured private loans for the majority of the funds, using personal savings for the rest. It may take them four to five years to repay the debt, but it will be worth it, Dina said.
"It was an old building, an old restaurant," Dina Les said. "We wanted to do it right and now it's clean, looks nice and has good food. People tell us they love it."
The Les's chose the name Pancake Club at the urging of their son, Pete, a civil engineer who graduated from Purdue University Calumet last year.
"It was his idea, and he really liked the name," Dina said.
Pete helps out at his parents Indiana eateries on weekends and whenever else he's not at his regular job, while his brother, Bill, and sister, Georgia Les Laskasikis, both work full time in their parents' business.
Bill, who has a business degree from University of Illinois Chicago, manages Prime Time, his family's bar and grill in Hickory Hills, Ill. Georgia manages the Oak Lawn restaurant, making use of her degree from DePaul University in finance and accounting.
"They grew up in the restaurant business and love it," Dina said. "I love it too, making people happy with good food and good service in a clean, attractive place."