Stephanie Preskar arrived at on Thursday evening to meet friends for dinner.
She sat in her car not sure why the restaurant was closed.
“We come here to meet and talk, the food was good and they had big portions,” the Crystal Lake woman said.
While the Niko’s sign remained lit up, another sign a few feet away told the story.
Owner Niko Kanakaris closed down the restaurant Sunday and put a “for lease” sign near the driveway. The restaurant, at 11900 Freeman Road, opened in 2004.
“It was a good eight years, then the economy slowed it down and that large restaurant needed a certain amount of volume to keep open,” he said. “The volume wasn’t there, so we needed to make a move.”
Kanakaris and his family are renovating the former Barley House in Algonquin to create Niko’s Lodge. He hopes to have it open by December. The family owns six other restaurants including the Thirsty Whale in Algonquin, the Red Mill in Woodstock and the Red Ox Inn in Hampshire, which was his first restaurant.
Niko’s staff has been moved to other restaurants, including the Pinecrest Restaurant, which the family operates. owns Pinecrest.
“Thank you to all the loyal customers in Huntley who supported us all those years,” Kanakaris said.
Leaving Huntley is hard for Kanakaris, who is also a Huntley trustee.
“This is my town,” he said. “This is where I grew up and this is where I live. It’s sad; but again, you have to make a business decision. If the volume isn’t there, you have to make a move and move on.”
Algonquin should have more traffic and the family got a great deal on the space, he said.
Kanakaris and his father, George, own the land on Freeman Road and will be looking for a tenant. They hope to find one who can bring a national chain to Huntley, Niko Kanakaris said. But the location will be marketed to many restaurants, he said.
The location will be a hot spot once the Route 47 and Interstate 90 full interchange is built, he said. He anticipates there will be lots of development once that project is completed.