White Street: ‘home away from home’

Daily Southtown - - WEEKEND - By Jessi Vir­tu­sio Jessi Vir­tu­sio is a free­lancer for the Daily Southtown. Tick­ets $2. 1-7 p.m. Satur­day and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sun­day. Cash only. 2420 S. Wood St., 708-369-8424, www.face­book.com/events/ 240104790188679/

Pauline Mod­jeski was look­ing for a ca­reer change, so she opened a restau­rant in the vil­lage where she lived.

White Street Cafe marked its fifth an­niver­sary in Oc­to­ber in the Trol­ley Barn in Frank­fort’s historic district.

“I used to walk my dog in that area fre­quently,” Mod­jeski said.

“The idea re­ally cen­tered around down­town Frank­fort, the com­mu­nity, what I thought would work well and, be­ing a res­i­dent, what I would like to see in town,” she said.

Here is the dish on this lo­cal eatery:

“Cap­rese av­o­cado toast is one of our topselling items,” said Mod­jeski, adding that break­fast bowls, chicken salad and home­made soup also are pop­u­lar.

“A cou­ple of years ago we ex­panded the break­fast menu. It’s evolved over time. When we first started, we just did break­fast wraps. We learned from cus­tomers how im­por­tant break­fast was so we added some equip­ment and power to the kitchen so we could ex­pand the cook­ing line.”

A cater­ing menu also was launched af­ter cus­tomers asked for it.

On the menu:

Mod­jeski’s jobs in down­town Chicago in­cluded a po­si­tion at a bro­ker­age firm and ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent and then short-term in­vest­ment man­ager at the for­mer Hori­zon Cash Man­age­ment, where she worked for more than 20 years. “I learned how to run a busi­ness. I learned the fi­nan­cial side of things,” she said.

As for the food side of things, Mod­jeski said, “It’s some­thing I picked up over the years just

About the owner:

learn­ing from oth­ers. Both of my ex-in-laws were very good cooks. I learned a lot from them and try­ing new things, ex­per­i­ment­ing, mag­a­zines and things like that. When I opened the cafe I hired pro­fes­sional cooks and chefs to help me. They’re re­spon­si­ble for a lot of the menu cre­ations. It was go­ing with my gut and what I thought would work well.”

A mis­sion state­ment:

“White Street Cafe is all about good food, good friends and good fam­ily. We want peo­ple to feel at home. That’s their home away from home. We feel like our cus­tomers are our fam­ily,” Mod­jeski said. “It’s a real neigh­bor­hood place. We’re re­ally proud of that.”

“It’s charm­ing. It’s sooth­ing. It’s just a re­lax­ing at­mos­phere,” Mod­jeski said of

Decor:

White Street Cafe, which her sis­ter Jen­nifer Mazurek, of Frank­fort, helped to build out and de­sign. There is in­door seat­ing for ap­prox­i­mately 55, while the cov­ered dog-friendly out­door pa­tio, which is open ap­prox­i­mately nine months out of the year, seats 46.

“My sis­ter is gluten-free. I saw first­hand how dif­fi­cult it was to be able to go out and eat food. It’s re­ally not that hard to make some­thing if you just take the ef­fort to look into the in­gre­di­ents, see what ev­ery­thing con­sists of and what your op­tions are. We do a lot of gluten-free,” said Mod­jeski, who grew up in Dolton and at­tended Se­ton Academy in South Hol­land.

House-made bar­be­cue, sour cream and onion, and sweet po­tato chips also are avail­able.

Spe­cial­ties: We’re dif­fer­ent be­cause:

“For a small area, there is a lot go­ing on,” Mod­jeski said of the cafe’s lo­ca­tion near the Old Plank Road Trail, Brei­dert Green and an­tique shop­ping.

Break­fast items start at $3.45 for var­i­ous se­lec­tions, $5.95 for sand­wiches and $8.45 for bowls or omelettes. Lunch items start at $3.25 for home­made soup, $6.25 for salads and plat­ters, $6.45 for sand­wiches and $7.25 for wraps and panini.

White Street Cafe is at 11 S. White St., Frank­fort. Hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tues­days-Sun­days and closed Mon­days. De­liv­ery is avail­able from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tues­days-Satur­days. Call 815-277-2790 or go to www.whitestreet­cafe.com.

Prices: Lo­gis­tics:

Head to Pilsen for the eighth an­nual Ta­mal Fest, where you’ll en­joy live mu­sic and dance per­for­mances while you chow down on re­gional va­ri­eties of tamales from 15 restau­rants and bak­eries like La Cocina de Ali­cia restau­rant and Nev­e­ria La Flor de Mayo. Don’t for­get to wash it all down with atole, a tra­di­tional corn­based drink pop­u­lar dur­ing the holiday sea­son, or some Mex­i­can hot cho­co­late. Af­ter tast­ing the fare, vote for your fa­vorite bites.

WHITE STREET CAFE

The White Street slid­ers at White Street Cafe in Frank­fort fea­ture two beef slid­ers on mini brioche buns with grilled onions, white Amer­i­can cheese and pick­led jalapeno served with house-made bar­be­cue chips.

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