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Fans Say Thanks, Farewell to This Must Be the Place

After two and a half years, Lemont's "Business of the Year" closes its doors.

Loyal customers of were already seated for lunch or getting drinks from the bar at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the last day of business for the downtown restaurant and live-music venue.

Among the first to arrive were Lemont Trustee Jeanette Virgilio and her husband, Brock Reinhard.

“It’s sad,” Virgilio said. “It’s always sad when a business closes.

“We’re here to say goodbye ... [the owners] are sweethearts,”  she said.

The restaurant, known for helping out with charity events, opened in downtown Lemont in 2008.

Bill Moffett, co-owner of The Place, said Saturday that it was “time to move on.” He and his business partner, Dan Farnesi, had wanted to try a venue for live music in town, Moffett said.

Framed album covers decorate the walls of the business. “Those are mine,” Moffett said. His collection gives a nod to classic rock, and rhythm and blues.

Employee David Aguirre—whose duties included cooking, washing dishes and sometimes waiting tables—said the business “was a perfect place to work."

"It was a blast working here,” he said.

Aguirre said he thinks a lack of appreciation for live music spelled demise for the restaurant.

Two more customers arriving for lunch Saturday said they might be back for dinner.

Joseph Barnard and Gail Kovesky said they came to The Place for lunch four or five times a week for good food and a “very cordial” staff.

Kovesky said they first tried The Place right after it opened.

“I like to support businesses locally,” she said. “I’m really going to miss this place.”

As to why businesses struggle downtown, Barnard said maybe lack of parking is at fault. He added that the downtown “is hard to get
to.”

Reinhard said he thinks “it costs too much to have a business in Cook County.”

Moffett, who runs another business, said he has no plans to open up a restaurant somewhere else.  Both he and Farnesi are masonry contractors.

“I built this place,” Moffett said, explaining that the building once housed industrial space. Double doors 12 feet high would open in the front so trucks could back in. A motorcycle shop was next door.

The interior now has red-brick arches, stone walls and dark-wood furnishings with a stage for bands at the back.

In February, This Must Be the Place received the Lemont Area Chamber of Commerce's first-ever .

The business hosted many fundraisers and contributed 10 percent of Tuesday proceeds to charity.

In a message to patrons, Moffett and Farnesi said they had “made a lot of new friends and shared many good times together.”

For the final goodbye, seven bands were scheduled to play Saturday night during “The Last Waltz/All-Star Jam Session."

Paddy July 18, 2011 at 01:42 PM
I think they gave alot to the community but the community did not give back like they should have!!! It was nice to see everyone come to say goodbye on Saturday but it was a little to late. It was like those who only go to chruch on Chirstmas and then complain when they have to stand!
Amanda Kuzminski July 18, 2011 at 04:31 PM
I feel bad for all the Lemont businesses trying to hold on, especially now when the economy has taken a toll on everyone. We patronize as many Lemont businesses as possible, especially the restaurants. We have wonderful places to eat here in town, and sometimes our family will argue over which one to go to! But we can't eat out every night... we can't even eat out every week. We eat in restaurants generally once or twice a month. We've been to The Place many times for meals as a family and for music with friends. Back when The Place first opened, both my husband and I said, "I hope this one makes it." They had cornered a music/bar/food market in Lemont that wasn't the same anywhere else. I hope the owners don't feel like they were failures, because nothing could be further from the truth. The concept was a success, and those who went there are truly grateful for the experience! Unfortunately, they opened, and then the economy crashed. The timing was bad, that's all. I'd like to see them try it again some time. I wish them all the best!
Jane Doyle July 19, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Sad, sad, sad. Lemont needs to do a better job of helping businesses grow, and Lemonters need to patronize our businesses. We continue to live in a ghost town. I LOVED The Place. What a shame. Wake up, Lemont!
Greg Alan July 19, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Agree with Paddy, Amanda, Jane! As a former Lemonter, for 40+ years, I've seen so many changes in Lemont. Perhaps lack of funding, to revitalize the downtown, and waterways areas. Any new talks about a possible marina?
Anne July 20, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Amanda, that's so true! We love to patronize Lemont businesses and restaurants, but unfortunately we can't eat out every day. I wish that Lemont residents would patronize local businesses more, and I wish that downtown Lemont weren't off the main roads. Other nearby communities have cute and seemingly thriving downtowns, and it seems obvious to me that traffic goes right through there. I wish there were a way to direct more traffic downtown.
V July 29, 2011 at 02:16 PM
I dont understand this town. This Must be The Place was a great spot. I cant count how many places open and close in Lemont. I also dont understand how some places stay open. (H&H). The Village needs to give people a reason to come downtown. Things like the car show help. But the village is missing the point of things like the car show. Lemont should limit vendors to Lemont businesses. We have a pop corn vendor who is from out of town, A sausage vendor who closed his store in Lemont and a Vendor who has no brick and mortar structure in town. Lemont will never attract business to town if they dont support them.
Tom Klimczak August 03, 2011 at 04:31 PM
The real estate costs, both rent and taxes, are a prime reason not to run a business in downtown Lemont. The long time successful businesses at least own their buildings. The rest make a small fortune...they start with a large one and go from there...where they go is away.

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