As a Crystal Lake native, Rachel Skubiszewski-Mucci has been a patron at Cafe Olympic since she was a little girl.
“There’s something magical about this spot,” she said.
That is why Skubiszewski-Mucci and two of her friends, Anthony Kern and Rosanna Cermak, said they have been in a “whirlwind” since they officially became the new owners of Cafe Olympic on Tuesday.
“It still doesn’t necessarily feel real,” Skubiszewski-Mucci said.
Cafe Olympic announced in a Facebook post earlier this month that the diner would be placed under new ownership.
“[Former owner] Chris and [wife] Nancy [Angelos] created such a staple of this community,” Skubiszewski-Mucci said, calling them “legends” in Crystal Lake. “We’re lucky that they trusted us to take over.”
Cermak said everyone in the community has been supportive, and the staff who worked under the Angeloses have stayed and “welcomed us into their family.”
“We’re feeling the love,” Cermak said.
Flowers, set around the dining area, have been sent in from people in the community, different guests and others the new owners previously worked with in Crystal Lake.
“Some people haven’t even had time to stop in and have a full meal, but they’ve just stopped in to say hello, congratulations,” Skubiszewski-Mucci said.
Although they’re happy with the community response they’ve received, the new owners know they have big shoes to fill.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, too, because we’re not Chris and Nancy,” Skubiszewski-Mucci said.
The three have never owned a restaurant, but they have extensive experience in the business in management positions, as bartenders or cooks, and opening restaurants for other people.
“This is the first that’s actually ours,” Skubiszewski-Mucci said.
For the next week, Chris Angelos will spend time showing the new owners the ropes, such as all of the recipes, where he ordered food and how to make the items. Nancy Angelos also will help serve for the first weekend, Skubiszewski-Mucci said.
Skubiszewski-Mucci said “no one can replace Chris,” but chef Jon Vasquez will be taking over his role in the kitchen.
The new owners said they want to keep the original spirit of the diner and will not make any drastic changes, but there are some things they want to do in the future to make the restaurant their own.
On Thursday, the new owners applied for a liquor license, and they are hoping they’ll be able to serve mimosas on tap in a couple of months.
Kern said they don’t want to turn the cafe into a bar “by any stretch of the imagination,” but they are instead going to focus on brunch-style drinks when they start serving them.
“They’re fresh and modern,” Kern said. “It should be really fun.”
Once they get their new ovens, the trio also plans on making their own baked goods, such as cinnamon rolls, fruit pies and biscuits.
Although they want to keep Cafe Olympic a diner and maintain the same structure, Skubiszewski-Mucci said they eventually want to give Cafe Olympic a modernized look with new floors, redone walls and ceilings, and reupholstered chairs to give it a fresh look.
After selling the restaurant, Chris Angelos said he has no immediate plans, although he wants to stay in Crystal Lake.
He said he started his restaurant career as a teenage busboy and has been wanting to sell the cafe for a few years now.
“I owned [Cafe Olympic] for 21 years,” he said. “It was just time for me to give it up. The time was right.”
He knew, however, that he wanted to keep the place going.
“It’s been here forever,” he said. “It’s strange. I’ll miss everybody. I loved my workers, I love the people that supported me. I loved the community. It’s been an awesome run.”