An infamous motel and lounge near downtown Fox Lake, long known for its crime and police calls, will be replaced by a new restaurant and tavern next spring.
Crews have begun tearing down portions of the old Patio Motel and Lagoon Lounge on Route 12 to make way for Studio Hotrods Roadhouse, being developed by business owner Harry Nicodem and partner and radio personality Erich "Mancow" Muller.
The restaurant will feature a custom car theme.
"It's what I do with hot rods and custom cars, taking older cars and making them new again," Nicodem said Thursday. "I want to do it so people come to Fox Lake. We want to make this place a destination."
Village officials said they are thrilled by the new addition for busy Route 12. They also admit to not shedding a tear over the closing of the old motel and lounge, which was the scene of numerous police complaints over the years.
"There has been a lot of village resources spent over the years in police calls at the motel," said Fox Lake Community Development Director Donovan Day. "Having a lot of police calls to an establishment is not a good thing."
The roadhouse could be the exact opposite, Day said. He said Nicodem could help be a major part of the business "rebirth" that seems to be taking place in town.
"I think it's going to be a destination for the region," Day said. "We can see a change happening, and Harry is part of that equation now."
Nicodem said the roadhouse will be modeled after his successful Studio Hotrods business in Richmond. He also said his goal is to draw live music acts by tapping into Muller's contacts through his radio show.
He also wants to introduce a theme where waitresses and other employees act and sing in the establishment, modeled after similar restaurants in Chicago.
"I grew up on the Chain, on the Fox River, and all my businesses are on the Route 12 corridor," Nicodem said. "This will be a family-oriented, fun business that's really outside the box. It's like nothing I've ever seen or heard of before."
He plans to have a variety of food trucks outside and new technology inside where patrons would use wristbands not cash at the bar. The wristbands will be linked to their credit card, and refreshments will be self-serve.
Mayor Donny Schmit said he is "excited' for the new establishment to open.
"This will definitely be an upgrade to what was in that location before," Schmit said. "This is a family-oriented business with music, that comes with access off the lake. It will be a great addition to the town."