WEST RIDGE — The home of the deep-fried burger has closed for good, ending a more-than-50-year run for a local Far North Side restaurant.
VPT Grill closed Thursday. The restaurant at 5754 N. Western Ave. opened in 1968 and underwent a resurgence after getting new owners 10 years ago.
The business began as Vince’s Pizzeria and Taqueria at 1527 W. Devon Ave. in Rogers Park. Husband-and-wife duo Ivan and Veronica Resendiz bought the restaurant in 2012, shortened the name to VPT and moved to Western Avenue in 2015, wanting to provide more parking and a bigger dining area.
One of the the couple’s creations caused VPT to garner a bigger following and more acclaim: the deep-fried burger.
Known as the Blackhawk Burger, the menu item included two Angus beef patties sandwiched with jalapeños and Merkts cheddar spread. The concoction was beer-battered and deep fried before being served with deep-fried pickles and a bun branded with VPT’s logo.
The creation dates back to the Blackhawks’ 2013 championship run and was meant as a “burger of the month” special. Its popularity made it a VPT signature.
VPT’s more traditional burgers have won awards, but the deep-fried one “helped put us on the map,” Ivan Resendiz said.
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The owners took on debt to help steer VPT through the pandemic, which devastated restaurants and other businesses. But business never rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, Ivan Resendiz said.
That, coupled with issues such as inflation, forced the business to close.
“After the pandemic, we got some help, some loans,” he said. “That kind of catches up with you.
“Now … the price of everything has gone up. People don’t have as much money to spend out anymore. It made it very hard to stay afloat.”
Neighbors have been lamenting the loss of VPT on social media, calling the business a quintessential and reliable neighborhood spot.
“This is crushing!” one neighbor wrote. “The whole family loved your tacos; you saw us through the pandemic.”
The decision to close was not an easy one for Ivan Resendiz, who grew up in Edgewater and whose first job was at Vince’s Pizzeria and Taqueria. Some regulars have said they are willing to start a fundraiser to help the business reopen, an option Resendiz said he would consider if enough was raised.
“I’m heartbroken because of our customers,” Resendiz said. “I love serving the community. It’s tough to give that all up.”
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