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The basics work for family restaurant

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on March 08, 2011 with No Comments

by Casey Rees

Looking for a quiet evening out with the family that will fill you up but will not break your bank? Try Val’s Famous Pizza and Grinders in Chesterton. A staple restaurant in town for the past several years, Val’s has grown and adapted with the city and has seen dramatic transformation over the past two years with its new owner, Kevin Murray.

“When I bought the place back in June of 2009, I was buying a place I had been coming to for years,” Murray said. “I wanted to stay true to what had made it successful, but I also wanted to put my own personal stamp on it. So I gave the place a fresh paint job, all new floors, new tables and chairs, so on and so forth. It was important to me to maintain the rustic look of the place while at the same time giving it a fresh feel.”

One thing he did not change was the food. With a menu featuring Chicago style calzones in generous portions at a fraction of the price you would pay in the city, and a stuffed sandwich dubbed “The Bomb” that is the size of a grapefruit, people know they are getting their moneys worth.

“Our biggest draw is that this is a comfortable, friendly place where you can bring your family,” Murray said. “Our food is reasonably priced and during these hard times people appreciate the fact that they can come and feed the whole family and not feel the sting in the wallet.”

On top of the already reasonably priced menu items, Murray also likes to offer food specials. Every Sunday he Val’s Famous Pizza and Grinders offers half price appetizers.

“You can come in on Sunday and get a dozen hot wings for about $3.50,” Murray said. “You can have a couple $1.50 Old Styles and maybe add four cheese stuffed bread sticks for another $2.50 and you can sit and watch a basketball or hockey game and leave a few hours later having spent under $10. Good food and value is what keeps the people happy. It’s what keeps people coming back.”

Murray also encourages customers to be creative with their food order. If you cannot find a grinder you like on the menu, you can invent your own. With a wide variety of ingredients to choose from there are seemingly endless opportunities.

“We’ve had some strange requests, people pairing foods that seem unnatural but to each their own,” he said. “We’ve also had people request sandwiches that sound amazing and I’ve been tempted to put them on the menu.”

Keeping his customers entertained is important to Murray as well, which is why he features live music every Tuesday.

“We have alternating acts. Every Tuesday night (from 6-8 p.m.) we either have a girl come in and play the house piano, or we have a young man named Chris Pabon set up in the banquet room and play blues or some original stuff he’s been working on,” Murray said.

“The piano is nice. It gives a relaxing vibe to the room. It’s like we’re a piano bar once every couple weeks. And people love Chris. He’s only 16 and is already such an accomplished musician.”

Pabon is exactly that. He has shared the stage with many legendary performers like Buddy Guy and Pinetop Perkins. He has played all over the country from New York to Hawaii and at such venues as Buddy Guys’ Legends in Chicago, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the Montalvo Arts Center in California. He hones his craft every other Tuesday night to the pleasure of Val‘s customers.

So with a solid customer base and steadily increasing sales, Murray is confident in his businesses’ future.

“Restaurants are a tricky business. People want a pleasant, clean place to eat and good people surrounding them and good food on their plates,” he said. “If I keep doing what I’m doing, hopefully things will continue to grow and expand and maybe someday I can open up another restaurant. But for now things are just fine.”

Val’s Famous Pizza and Grinders offers dine-in, carry-out, delivery and catering services. You can reserve their banquet room for an event and host up to 45 people. The restaurant is located at 112 S. 11th St. in Chesterton. For more information, call 219-921-0056.

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