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Your Chicago: West Suburban La Grange

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The La Grange Theater is among the notable businesses in downtown La Grange. (CBS)

The La Grange Theater is among the notable businesses in downtown La Grange. (CBS)

Rob Johnson Rob Johnson
Rob Johnson is the weekday anchor of the CBS 2 Chicago evening...
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LA GRANGE, Ill. (CBS) – It’s a jewel in the western suburbs, where new shops and restaurants co-exist with the traditional older establishments.

With a scenic downtown, and an abundance of shops and restaurants both new and old, lunchtime in La Grange is bustling.

The village has come a long way since a man named Franklin Cossett led the emigration from Chicago in the 1870s. It was named after Cossett’s original home of La Grange, Tenn.

La Grange attorney John Kenney would know. He’s Cossett’s great-great-great grandson.

“It was far enough away to get some good separation and a big factor was a very good rail line, which still exists today,” he tells CBS 2’s Rob Johnson.

In the next 100 years, La Grange turned into a sleepy little village with several landmarks like the La Grange Theater and First National Bank. But it was an investment in downtown development and beautification in the 1980s that really turned things around.

The La Grange success story isn’t just about an investment made by a local government. It’s about the belief of a group of business owners that the village would and could be a vibrant place.

Take the DeVries family, whose grocery store on Arlington Avenue harkens back to the groceries of old, where it was about more than just fresh fruit and meat, it was gathering place for the community. It’s still thriving, despite the big-box stores.

“I think the reason we have survived all of these years is through customer service. We can’t compete on price or anything, so we just go all-out on customer service,” Chris DeVries says.

Palmer Place downtown, on La Grange Road, is known for its beer garden in the back and award-winning burgers. Steve Palmer’s parents started it in the early ‘80s, and now he and his brother run it.

“This town is all about community, it’s about giving back to the community, it’s about supporting charity, it’s about public service, and it’s about just being in that friendly place where you walk in and you know the owner and you know people,” Palmer says.

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