KANKAKEE — The two Papi’s Pizza Cafe locations in Kankakee County will close for the final time at the end of business on Sept. 19.
Owner Russell Lind said Tuesday that he has accepted a position with a national restaurant chain. In this role, Lind, 41, of Bradley, will be helping the company open new locations across the United States.
He declined to name the restaurant chain.
He said he was approached with the job offer about four weeks ago and he and his wife, Laura, pondered it for the past few weeks before deciding the time was right to take the opportunity.
Papi’s opened in July 2017 at 150 E. Station St. in downtown Kankakee. He only recently opened a Papi’s location in the food court of Northfield Square mall.
Lind said the decision was not based on a lack of business. He said since he put out a public plea in March for local support of their small business, the restaurant has done well.
Lind noted he informed the 15 employees of the decision on Monday.
“That was difficult. It was an emotional day,” he said. “This was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life.”
While the restaurant was able to maintain itself, Lind said taxes and the increasing minimum wage do present challenges for small businesses.
In addition to the two locations, Lind also operated a carry-out location in Herscher for a few months at the former Tiger Den. He also operated a food truck.
In a Facebook message posted late Monday, Lind said the job opportunity was too good to pass on.
“Our family has received a new opportunity and after extensive discussion, we have decided it is in our family’s best interest to accept this offer,” he wrote. “It has been a true pleasure serving the Kankakee community these past few years, and we will miss each and every one of you.”
The downtown Kankakee property is owned by Peotone businessman Adam Baumgartner.