A message and memoir from the Belmont Snack Shop.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this today...As many of you know the Snack Shop is currently closed due to a fire that destroyed the entire property. After a lot of thought and consideration and looking at every angle possible it is apparent to all of us at the Snack Shop that rebuilding and attempting to bring Belmont Snack Shop back to the community is not in the stars. But before we say goodbye lets take a stroll down memory lane and give you some history of the "Snack Shop" on Belmont & Kimball...
"I have been coming here since I was a kid"
This is something I have heard many times over from customers who frequent Belmont Snack Shop, many of our customers have been coming here since they were children and continued the tradition with their children when they became adults. I too am one of those customers who have been coming to the Snack Shop since I was a kid... I have heard stories of the restaurant at 3407 W Belmont Ave being around in the 60's and 70's but I don’t have any stories or knowledge of that but I do know it was around in the 80's. From my limited knowledge a man by the name of Danny McCullom owned the property on Belmont. I was told this was his first restaurant that he opened along with his late wife and this restaurant held special meaning to him as he began to establish more restaurants and properties. People managed the restaurant which at that time was called K&S Snack Shop. Two of those people who managed the restaurant in the early 90's was a Dion and Loria Richards. At some point in the mid 90's looking to move away from ownership of some of these restaurants Mr. McCullom made the decision to offer ownership of K&S Snack Shop to Dion & Loria. At this point K&S Snack Shop became D&L Snack Shop and with Dion & Loria being my parents I came into the picture. At that time as a young kid growing up in the neighborhood I can honestly say that even though my parents owned this restaurant I rarely ever stepped foot in there unless I was waiting for my bus to go to Jahn Elementary. I do remember the people who frequented D&L Snack Shop... I remember Eva sitting in her corner stool having coffee and gossiping... I remember the morning shift waitress Lee always sneaking me candy as if I was 5 years old but I took it none the less lol. I remember Francis (RIP) & Karen (RIP) working the graveyard shift slinging out skirt steak breakfast specials like they were water. Francis cussing out the drunk men who came in there and watching them laugh in enjoyment because thats exactly what they wanted to happen and she obliged. I remember dear old Shirley (RIP) working the afternoon shift not even for the money but just to get out of the house. I remember Mary... Hillbilly Mary is what we called her, I remember being a child watching in amazement as I argued with this grown women who thought Pro Wrestling was real but it didn't matter cause she enjoyed it and I enjoyed the arguments. I remember walking into that restaurant 2 hours after my daughter was born, exhausted hungry and eating a Southern Special as my Mom asked me a 1000 questions about her first Granddaughter.
The memories flood me as I write this... Dion & Loria owned the Snack Shop until 2010. At this point I was working the restaurant with my parents along with Paul Schiller the current owner of the Belmont Snack Shop. Around that time they gave up the Snack Shop and the owners of the property asked Paul & I if we were interested in taking over. We invested every dime we had and took over this business at what I considered to be one of it's lowest points. Sales were down and people were losing their love of the Snack Shop so Paul & I set out to change that. At that point it was a struggle... I remember every day waking up and going downstairs to the restaurant as I was the tenant at 3407 W Belmont since 2004. I remember going downstairs and taking what little bit of money we earned the day before and buying stock and doing it again and again each day until we had enough money to buy a couple days worth of stock and then finally getting to the point where we had enough to buy stock 2 times a week and so on... We built the Snack Shop up slowly and it was not easy... But we didn’t do it alone we did it with the help of many people… When we started our management in 2010 it was only Paul, Myself, Carl & Karen. Over the years Carl & Karen have left us for a better place and I truly believe that had they still been around they would have been with Paul & I up until the day of the fire. A few weeks after taking over, Linda came into the picture and she too has passed but was missed up until the the end… Many of my own young cousins referred to the restaurant as “Linda’s Place”. We lost many other employees along the way like C.J, Janet, etc and without any of them the restaurant would not have been the same. My memory isn’t as great as it use to be so please bare with me if I cannot acknowledge all the staff we have had over the decade but we would like to say thank you to LeeAnn, Vickie, Kathy, Stephanie, Haley, Deysi, Isabella, Janis, Andrea, Julio, Chris, Angelo and anyone else whose name escapes me at the moment… You all served the community of Avondale/Logan Square perfectly and I thank you for being part of the family. A special thank you goes out to the Judy, Todd & Oliver who were with us to the end… COVID had such an affect on everyone and the business. You all were there the last couple months watching the struggle and so many times picking me up when things seemed so dire. Paul & I thank you all for being there for us!
Finally on behalf of everyone here at the Snack Shop I say thank you to the community cause without you we would have been a failed business… one of many in Chicago, but you all and your support made us into a success and we are forever grateful… Our former cook Carl who is no longer with us for so many years when leaving his shift he would walk pass my office and look in and say everyday to me “Okay Bubba, I’ll see ya next time”… So please check out our link make a donation if you can, it would be greatly appreciated… On that note I leave you all by saying…
“Okay people, I’ll see ya next time”
Nelson A. Rodriguez