HAMMOND| A slew of new restaurants have recently opened in Hammond, including the sit-down Stuffed Pepper Greek restaurant and Chicago's legendary fried chicken chain Harold's.
A Harold's Chicken Shack, known for its cooked-to-order and piping hot fried chicken, recently opened at 6158 Indianapolis Boulevard near the South Shore Line station in East Chicago.
Harold's is a South Side Chicago favorite that's known as the Fried Chicken King, and has been praised by rappers such as Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. The chain's Calumet Region locations include Gary, Merrillville and Lansing.
All told, nearly a dozen restaurants have recently opened or will soon open in Hammond.
Other new eateries in Hammond include the Flaming Grill at 5814 Calumet Avenue and Wally's Gyros at 7342 Indianapolis Boulevard. Wally's offered a wide array of fast food, including Philly subs, fried fish and wings. Frankie V's Bar and Grill moved into the former Up for Grabs space at 1923 Calumet Avenue in the Robertsdale neighborhood by Whiting.
The Stuffed Pepper moved into the old Woodmar Cafe space at 7231 Indianapolis Boulevard, just south of Carson's department store. The sit-down Greek Restaurant offers kebobs, salads, chicken sandwiches, fish, steak, vegetarian fare and specialties like the "Burger of the Gods," which includes lamb, beef and shrimp.
Traditional Greek dishes include mousaka, pastitsio, spanakopita, tiropita and its namesake yemista, the Greek version of stuffed pepper. Side dishes include kalamatra olives and imported feta cheese.
Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks both plan to open coffee shops in Hammond this year, and Byway Brewing Co. plans a brewpub in the new Oxbow Landing development, where a Buffalo Wild Wings recently opened. The owners of the wildly popular El Taco Real have worked to bring their Eat eatery downtown for some time. 18th Street Brewery will also have a small kitchen in its downtown production facility.
A significant amount of new development has taken place in Hammond over the last 24 months, and the restaurants are following, said Phil Tallion, executive director for planning and development for the city of Hammond.
"It's been a huge influx, and restaurants are always going to be following close behind," he said. "As you create jobs, they need a place to eat."
Hammond markets itself to both franchises and independent restaurants, Tallion said.
"We love the mom and pops," he said. "Some people prefer a franchise name. They can get the same quality anywhere in the country. They know it, they're familiar with it. But places like The Stuffed Pepper bring their own unique flair. It's not something you can get anywhere else."
A few more restaurants should be coming to Hammond in the next 12 months, he said.
"There are are few we're in negotiation with now – a few franchises, a few mom and pop," he said. "It's a good mix."