On A Corner Cursed?


Laura Rojas

Is that a trick of light or ghost?

What makes a place constantly change—to never have a business last more than a couple years at a time—and for over half a century? Is it bad luck, poor business choices, bad location? Or is it possibly, something, a little more paranormal?


The corner of Caldwell Avenue and Touhy Avenue has been described as a prime business location. Loopnet.com, a site for finding commercial properties, describes it as “a four stop lighted corner (with) heavy traffic on both Touhy and Caldwell,” and explains that the “traffic on all streets is terrific.” They even deem it perfect for several different types of businesses as well as restaurants.


If you flip a coin you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting heads or tails. If you want heads and land a tails 10 times in a row you might just have bad luck. But how much bad luck can there be for several different owners in the span of 55 years for just one place?


After a Howard Johnson’s restaurant that had opened in 1952 and closed around the 1960s nothing else seemed to stay open for long according to David H., a citizen of Niles who has lived in the neighborhood for around 60 years.
David recounts that there has always been some sort of restaurant that would open up at the corner and usually of Greek cuisine. He said that it may be bad choices made by the various owners who have tried to open shop only to find they are out of business in a short time.


Mark Freedman, owner of the new restaurant called Wildwood Tavern that just opened up at the corner on August of 2015, said that he had been told by several people not to buy the location because it may be cursed. He said that it’s the person running the restaurant that makes the place, not the place that makes the restaurant.


In the past five years there have been at least three different restaurants opened at this location. After closing, they also stood vacant for at least a year in between. A hotel behind the restaurant was recently closed and demolished according to George K. from The Edgebrook Motel across the street on Touhy Avenue.


Also a restaurant called Caldwell’s Kitchen & Tap, which had been open for roughly three years, in the beginning had some fairly decent reviews. The majority of the time being four stars on Yelp. Mark E. wrote, “This place is the DREAM!” and gave a five star review. While another customer named John F. wrote, “Ribs are extraordinarily tender here and salads and sandwiches are first rate.”


Even with the decline in good reviews it maintained an average of three stars. And on Fudio54.com, another website for restaurant reviews, it was given four and a half out of five stars from 30 reviews.


If people liked the place at first, what made it go bad enough to shut down? The following two restaurants, Aegean Isles and Christopher’s Off the Bone BBQ Char House, didn’t stay open more than a year each before they closed and remained vacant.


It may be happenstance that so many owners decided to open restaurants at the corner of Caldwell and Touhy only to have them fail for one reason or another. However; one could say that once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, but three or more times…might just be a curse.