CRYSTAL LAKE – The owners of Around the Clock Restaurant are hoping to quash a persistent rumor that they plan to sell their Route 14 property to a national pharmacy chain.
Brothers and co-owners Steve and Fano Theofanous want to put an end to the rumor by offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can show a “proof of sale” between the restaurant and CVS Pharmacy.
The rumor, which the owners first heard in March, has dogged customers and the restaurant’s 70 employees since then, Steve Theofanous said.
“At first, we thought it was an April Fools joke,” he said. “The rumor was that we were going to close in October, but even after October, we kept hearing it. It was creating a lot of anxiety for our staff and customers.”
The brothers have no plans to sell the property or their 38-year-old, family-run restaurant business at 5011 Route 14, Crystal Lake, they said.
“We love the restaurant business,” Fano Theofanous said. “The rumor was bad for morale. Staff members worried. We ignored it for a while, but at some point, we had three or four people a day asking when we were closing.”
The restaurant, a Crystal Lake staple, serves about 7,000 people a week.
“What shocked us was how long the rumor went on,” Fano Theofanous said. “A lot of our staff members have been with us for 20 years. They are not just staff to us, they are family.”
Messages left for several CVS Caremark Realty directors in the region were not returned Monday. A message left for a corporate spokesperson also wasn’t returned. However, the company’s website lists new store location criteria that the owners’ say casts doubt on a potential sale. One of the requirements is “free standing sites with drive-thru pharmacy capability, 1.5 [to] 2.0 acres,” according to the website. Around the Clock has less than an acre, according to the owners and township property records.
The national drug store chain has been searching for property along Route 14 in Crystal Lake for at least two years, said Jack Minero, a real estate agent with Commercial Prudential First Realty. However, he said he hadn’t heard any rumors about the Around the Clock property.
City officials confirmed CVS is looking for a second Crystal Lake location, but the Around the Clock site has never been presented as an option, said James Richter II, Crystal Lake’s assistant director of economic development.
Fano Theofanous said one good thing that has come from the rumor is the brothers have started looking at plans for the future of the business and getting the next generation interested in it.
“It gave us a chance to reflect,” he said. “We got to think about how much this business means to us and our family.”
A post about the $10,000 offer got more than 15,000 views on the restaurant’s Facebook page, Steve Theofanous said. As of Monday, the post had nearly 400 “Likes” and 68 comments.
It’s also brought out many longtime customers who related stories and memories about meals and social gatherings at the restaurant. Those types of comments showed the owners how much a part of the community the restaurant has become, they said.