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Junction Diner in Forest Park to Open Friday

Junction Diner will be a kid-friendly restaurant featuring hamburgers, fries and more—all delivered by train.

Imagine sitting at a counter waiting for your burger and fries when suddenly a train, whistle blaring and lights flashing, stops in front of you with your meal.

When you go to Junction Diner, that's exactly what will happen.

The restaurant, at 7401 W. Madison St., plans to open Friday, Nov. 9. The hours will be  11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. It will be closed Mondays.

The diner will serve up, well, diner fare: hamburgers, chicken nuggets, Mac and Cheese and grilled cheese for the kids; wraps and salads and chicken sandwiches be part of the fare for adults.

It will have 38 dining stools and more seating on the side, which may seem a bit small for some places.

But it will be a gigantic draw for families with kids under 10 - and it will be absolutely kid-friendly, said Brad Wahl, one of the owners. The other is his wife, Kate Crawford Wahl, whose family has deep roots in town.

Madison Street in Forest Park is full of great restaurants with good kids' menus. They are family friendly, but none of them was a destination place with kids in mind, said Wahl. This one will be, he added.

Kids will be able to sit or climb on a coin-operated engine and a wooden train bench. Pictures will be definitely encouraged. The diner also will have an interactive train-layout table where kids can navigate through a town that resembles Forest Park. It will have some of the town's "destination places," including a playground and Schauer Hardware, Wahl said.

Who ever heard of kids drawing on the walls of a restaurant? Well this one will have chalk walls that will allow youngsters to do just that. That activity was such a big hit during a birthday party that a portion of the walls will be set aside for youngsters to create their own art, he said.

In addition the restaurant will fill an unmet need. He and his family, which includes three kids, had been to other restaurants that sported train decor (The All Aboard Diner in Downers Grove; the Choo-Choo in Des Plaines, 2Toots in Glen Ellyn and Bartlett are among them. Another, called Snackville Junction in Evergreen Park, closed in 2007.)

The family liked them but he found there should be one closer to home so that kids could have the same experience.

"They had to search them out," he said. "This place is a good fit for Forest Park. Nothing comes close to it."

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