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Chicago Heights bar The Tender Trap closes after 42 years of service

For more than four decades, The Tender Trap Sports Bar & Grill has been a staple in Chicago Heights and across the south suburbs, known for offering all-you-can-eat crab legs.

But last month, the restaurant on Alice Street and Glenwood Road and North Halsted Street announced it would close Dec. 23.

A note left on the door thanks patrons for the past 42 years and concluded they would all be missed.

While it is unclear why the business, known as The Trap, is closing, the business community and Chicago Heights residents say they lost a fixture that will be hard to replace.

“I can certainly tell you that it is a Southland loss,” Terri L. Winfree, president of the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce, said in an email.

News that the restaurant would close comes almost exactly a year after Southland restaurateur and founding partner of The Tender Trap, Michael A. Galderio, died from cancer at age 69 Dec. 29, 2023. He helped run The Tender Trap until 1990, and later opened up Balagio Ristorante & Banquete in Homewood and Mokena.

Owners of The Tender Trap did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But as the restaurant which offered gambling machines and deep dish pizza comes to an end, Winfree says it will be missed.

“Having worked at Prairie State College for 25 years, I know many of our employees would regularly visit the restaurant and enjoy lunch,” she wrote. “It was a great place to have a quick bite for lunch, or have a large gathering for a celebration. When the college hosted sporting events, the tender trap provided a place for students and families to gather after the games.”

Tom Cooper, 52, who moved from Flossmoor to Minooka in 2006, said he spent a lot of his first 34 years at The Tender Trap, even meeting a man who would later be a member of his wedding party.

Cooper said when he learned found the place he would frequent for football games, karaoke and trivia nights was closing, he began to reminisce.

“I started thinking about all the good times that I had there and all the people that I had met. Just the friendships and all that,” Cooper said. “It was a part of my life that, it’s just like wow, just doesn’t exist anymore.”

hsanders@chicagotribune.com