But with the help of responding firefighters, the restaurant was only closed a few hours.
"The fire looked a lot scarier from LaGrange Road than it really was, " said manager Michael Lorenzo, Jr. "The fire was probably about three feet wide. The fire department did a great job of opening up the walls in such a way that it was easily repaired."
The small fire began while repairs were in progress on the roof.
"We did have customers in the restaurant at the time. We had a few parties going on,” Lorenzo said. “For the most part, everything went well. We all worked quickly to minimize the loss of business.”
In 20 years of serving pizzas, their award-winning Chicken Tetrazzini and other Italian fare in Orland Park, Papa Joe's uses variety to keep customers returning.
"We do a lot of banquet parties throughout the summer, and we change up a few menu items and drinks for the seasons.” Lorenzo said. “We do a sangria and a summer shandy, which is a beer we have on draft. It is popular with younger drinkers, sort of lemony and refreshing. Then we'll put in some type of seasonal fall beer."
With many restaurants in Orland Park, how does Papa Joe's keep business going?
“We're very south side-priced, and we get so many parties of repeat customers,” Lorenzo said. “We take great pride in putting out a quality product.”
In a few weeks the Taste of Orland Park will begin, and Papa Joe's will be a vendor during the fest, keeping their yearly tradition of participating since the festival began.
"The Taste of Orland Park is a fun event for us. It's mostly staffed with family,” Lorenzo said. “It's a nice way to socialize with the community, so they can see our family not only in the restaurant but at the Taste as well.
"Our house specialty is Chicken Tetrazzini, which we serve at the Taste. It's the best-selling dish that we have in the restaurant, as well as our pizza."
Traditions are important at Papa Joe's. Family is important as well. The two intersect among their repeat visitors.
"I was just speaking to a lady who was here the other day. She was telling me how we had the bridal shower, when the bride married her son,” Lorenzo said. “Then they had the baby shower here as well and now she came back to book the baby's baptism. It's nice to be able to grow up with our customers, to be part of their lives. We're family owned and operated and geared towards the family dynamic.
"We're looking forward in growing with Orland Park as they develop the business district along LaGrange Road.”
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