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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Athens Pita opens, Oh Gee Donuts coming, Cat's Tale and Savory Spot close, Amoco returns
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NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Athens Pita opens, Oh Gee Donuts coming, Cat's Tale and Savory Spot close, Amoco returns

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

Opa! Athens Pita opened last week in the Munster spot formerly occupied by Jimmy's Burger and Wings.

The new gyros joint at 437 Ridge Road in Munster serves yeeros, salads and bowls that can be customized with ingredients like hummus, tomatoes, Turkish salad, corn, beets, chickpeas, Tzatziki sauce, Tahnini sauce and Greek garlic sauce.

The locally owned independent restaurant claims to have "the best Greek food in Indiana." 

Athens Pita offers gyros sandwiches and plates with your choice of traditional lamb/beef gyro meat, steak, chicken yeero, grilled chicken and falafel. The menu also includes yeero street wraps, Greek style quesadillas, burgers, chicken, sandwiches and Greek style fries served with feta cheese, oregano and other Greek spices.

For those with a sweet tooth, Athens Pita offers milk shakes and desserts, which are displayed in a glass case.

The Greek street food restaurant offers catering and delivery, and plans to have online ordering in the future.

The restaurant features a small dine-in area decorated with pictures of Chicago sports heroes like Walter Payton, Mike Ditka and Jose Abreu. There's also a framed photo of Jay Cutler.

Tucked in a strip mall next to I Am Popcorn on Ridge Road, Athens Pita replaced Jimmy's Burger and Wings, a long-standing fast food joint that served Philly cheese steaks, lemonade, burgers, wings, catfish sandwiches, pizza puffs, corned beef sandwiches, subs, Chicago dogs, Polish sausage, Italian beef and also gyros.

Anyone craving one of Jimmy's "famous" burgers can visit one of the small chain's other locations in Dolton, Markham and the South Side of Chicago.

The new Athens Pita is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 219-595-0124 or visit athenspita.net.

Coming soon

Octave Grill, named after early flight pioneer Octave Chanute, who flew his hang glider over the Indiana Dunes, is one of the Region's most beloved burger joints with its grass fed beef and premium ingredients like crimini mushrooms, fig jam, and capriole organic goat cheese.

Better save room for dessert. 

The restaurant at 105 S. Calumet Road in downtown Chesterton, which Yelp and Buzzfeed named the best burger restaurant in the entire state of Indiana last year, decided it's time to make the doughnuts. Octave Grill plans to open Oh Gee Doughnuts — a new bakery specializing in sweets — in the former Octave space at 137 S. Calumet Road in the spring.

Oh Gee Doughnuts will be open from Thursday through Sunday, serving house-made doughnuts and other baked goods. Expect the favorites from Octave Grill like frozen key lime pie, pumpkin bourbon bread pudding, and cherry cobbler, which will be available to go.

A sneak preview of Oh Gee Doughnuts will be available at Leeds Public House’s Donuts and Beer Pairing from 10 a.m. to noon before the Shelf Ice Brewfest on Saturday Feb. 15 at the gastropub at 401 Franklin St. in downtown Michigan City.

Oh Gee Doughnuts will provide three of the four mini-doughnuts that will be paired with beers from Chesterton Brewery, Burn ‘Em Brewing, Round Barn Public House and Brewery and Windmill Brewing.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on Facebook or Eventbrite.

Closed 

The Savory Spot Restaurant & Catering closed after a brief run last year on U.S. 30 in Dyer.

The soul food restaurant at 202 Joliet St. served up southern fare like barbecue ribs, shrimp skewers, Po' Boy sandwiches and fried chicken with sides like mac and cheese, baked sweet potato, corn muffins and collard greens.

It opened about a year ago in a space in the Creamery Building by the Engine Room Ale House in downtown Dyer, formerly home to Zuni's House of Pizza and Slice Pizza.

Closed 

Roma Grill closed after just a few months in the former Pascals Pizza spot at 9543 Wicker Ave. in St John.

Open for both dine-in and carryout, the Italian restaurant served pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches, Italian beef and Italian sausage. It opened last summer and also did catering.

The phone number is now disconnected and the owners could not be reached for comment.

Employees at neighboring businesses said there were plans afoot to reopen the sit-down restaurant with a new concept as early as February.

Closed 

The Cat's Tale Used Book Store closed after a decade in a strip mall on U.S. 30 in Schererville.

The homey neighborhood bookstore at 1512 Joliet St. in Schererville was crammed with paperback books of all genres, including literature, science fiction, romance, biography and mass market commercial fiction.

Founded in 2010 by a grandmother, avid book reader and frequent book club member who reads three or four books at a time, The Cat's Tale was an independent local book store with an inventory of thousands of books. It's the second local bookstore to close within the past year in Northwest Indiana, following the Remarkable Book Shop at 7227 Taft St in Merrillville, which shuttered after nearly four decades when its owner decided to retire.

Though it trafficked in used books, The Cat's Tale did not buy books but did offer discounts on purchases to anyone who donated them. The small bookshop always stocked all the books on the summer reading lists of local middle and high schools.

It was the only non-comic or Christian special interest bookstore in the entire Tri-Town of Schererville, Dyer, and St. John, one of the fastest growing areas in the Region.

Open

El Portal Mexican Grill opened about two months ago at 7840 Wicker Ave. in St John.

The Tex-Mex restaurant and bar serves chimichangas, chilaquiles, chile rellenos, enchiladas, quesadillas, flautas, fajitas, tortas and tacos. It has entrees like carne asada accompanied by the traditional sides of rice and refried beans, as well as nachos, including a Nachos Fajita Jalisco topped with chicken, steak and shrimp.

The massive sit-down restaurant on Wicker Avenue seats up to 160 diners, including at a 600-square-foot bar that serves drinks like margaritas, tequila and cerveza.

El Portal has a 500-square-foot private room that can be rented out and periodically hosts special events like live music.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit elportalgrill.com or call 219-627-3107.

Reopening

A familiar name is returning to the Region.

Midwest Gas and Food, a gas station at 1130 U.S. 30 in Schererville, shuttered but will soon reopen as an Amoco.

The BP Whiting Refinery had long been known as Amoco until London-based BP acquired it in 1998. Since 2017, BP has been rolling the Amoco brand back out in select markets across the country at sites in which existing BP-branded gas stations are in close proximity.

At least a half dozen Amoco gas stations have opened across Chicagoland, but the Schererville gas station may end up being the first in Northwest Indiana with the revived Amoco brand.

Here's a look at our recent business coverage of retail closings:

Retailpocalypse: A look at businesses that are closing in the Region

Some have been calling 2017 the "retailpocalypse" because of the stunning number of brick-and-mortar stores that have been closing across the country. Retailers that are shuttering all or some of their stores in the Region and the south suburbs so far in 2017 include:

If you've got tips about new stores or restaurants anywhere in the Region, or just wonder what's under construction somewhere, contact NWI Business Ins and Outs columnist Joseph S. Pete at joseph.pete@nwi.com or 219.933.3316.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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