Cary convenience store, slot house could open later this year

Convenience store, slot house with ‘Alcohol 2 Go’ sign could open in ’18

Tony V's Pizzeria owner Tony Vanacora purchased the restaurant's neighboring property to open Lucky Esther's in Cary.
Tony V's Pizzeria owner Tony Vanacora purchased the restaurant's neighboring property to open Lucky Esther's in Cary.

Drivers passing Tony V’s Pizzeria and Bar in Cary may have noticed a new business developing next door: Lucky Esther’s Slots.

In the windows at 6504 Silver Lake Road are hand-drawn “Coming Soon” signs for the business that advertises “Alcohol 2 Go.”

It turns out the people behind Lucky Esther’s are the same people behind Tony V’s: siblings Tony Vanacora and Maria Wildeboer.

Tony V’s Properties Inc. bought the building next door to the restaurant in September 2017. The company paid $219,500, Premier Commercial Realty broker Bruce Kaplan said.

The building had belonged to a family trust tied to Halina Rez – the owner of Rez’s Food Mart, a convenience store that served hundreds of unincorporated Cary residents before the sale to Tony V’s Properties.

In an interview with the Northwest Herald, Vanacora shared some insight into the new business he hopes to open later this year.

“It’s named after my mom,” Vanacora said of his 77-year-old mother, Esther, who enjoys gambling.

Vanacora, who has slot machines inside Tony V’s Pizzeria, plans to run a convenience store similar to Rez’s Food Mart – only this time the shop will sport slot machines.

Built on about 18,500 square feet of land in 1948, the 1,576-square-foot building includes a 432-square-foot space for the store. There’s also a kitchen and storage room.

Upstairs, there is a two-bedroom apartment where the store’s former owners will live, Vanacora said.

Real estate taxes on the building were about $6,600 in 2015, according to property records.

Tony V’s Properties was awarded a liquor license from McHenry County, allowing it to apply for a gambling license with the Illinois Gaming Board.

Lucky Esther’s Inc. is listed on the Illinois Gaming Board’s website as a pending applicant.

“I’m waiting for the gaming part,” said Vanacora, who plans to sell cigarettes and alcohol.

McHenry County Board member Chris Christensen said he has nothing against gambling establishments in the unincorporated pockets of Cary.

He does, however, have a problem with the sign outside Lucky Esther’s.

“The owners of Tony V’s have been great neighborhood partners,” Christensen said. “My issue with Lucky Esther’s centers around their sign.”

The Lucky Esther’s sign that features the phrase “Alcohol 2 Go.”

“I find that to be garish and hope in the future they consider changing it,” Christensen said.

Although Vanacora answered initial questions for the Northwest Herald, Wildeboer declined to comment further.

Kaplan, who brokered the deal for Tony V’s Properties, said he had no idea the siblings would turn the store into a gambling stop.

A former Cary trustee, Kaplan supports the proliferation of gambling. They could help fill vacant real estate parcels, he said.

Requirements in the Village of Cary are more strict than in unincorporated areas. A business such as Lucky Esther’s would not get approved in the village, which requires gaming operators to have a full-service restaurant.

“The village has nothing to lose. It creates jobs. It create rent. It creates revenue for the village,” Kaplan said. “Some morality issues have been placed on the gaming by certain people.”

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