April Fools’: In-N-Out Burger is not coming to the Region; Valpo Velvet not taking summer off – The Times of Northwest Indiana
Pranksters have struck again on the one day of the year when you would most suspect it.
A sign sprung up at the old greenhouse property at the corner of North Street and Indiana Avenue in Crown Point promising a new development. The pictured strip mall features an In-N-Out Burger, Bronko’s, Sizzler, Shakey’s Pizza and the anchor of Family Video.
The sign directs people to owner/agent George Vandalay in a reference to the hit sitcom “Seinfeld.”
There are a few hints that the sign that popped up the day before April Fool’s Day — photos of which have been widely shared on social media — is not totally legit.
Glenview-based Family Video, which outlived the big three video store chains of Blockbuster, Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery for a decade, went out of business last year as the coronavirus pandemic dried up the spigot of new releases that were available there before on streaming sites. The video store chain, which grew to 800 locations at its height, has been liquidating the last of its inventory on eBay and is not expanding to new locations.
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The Sizzler steakhouse and Shakey’s Pizza chains still exist, but now have a much smaller footprint than they once did.
Bronko’s, the popular bar known for its fried chicken and pizza, closed in Crown Point in 2015, though it still has a location in nearby Hebron.
In-N-Out Burger, which has a cult following, currently only has locations in its home base of California and in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Texas, with no immediate plans to expand to the Midwest as it puts a heavy emphasis on having a fresh supply of beef from regional ranches.
“We currently do not have any plans to open a location in Crown Point, Indiana, although we know it is a wonderful city,” said Mike Abbate, In-N-Out Burger’s assistant vice president, real estate and development.
George Vandalay is a reference to the fictional Art Vandelay, the “Seinfeld” character George Costanza invents during a job interview.
Crown Point has a history of April Fools’ Day pranks, including that the Chicago Bears will host a training camp at the Crown Point YMCA, Indiana Beach is relocating to the Lake County Fairgrounds and Trader Joe’s is opening a supermarket in the city.
Tom Donovan and David Bryan with the Lake Court House Foundation again were behind the prank.
“We come up with something based on what people are talking about,” Bryan said. “People have asked when Bronko’s is coming back and why the city hasn’t done anything with that property.”
Most people pick up on the joke, but at least one person called City Hall to threaten a lawsuit over the sign, Bryan said. It’s not clear if that too was a prank, he said.
“The YMCA got hundreds of phone calls about the Bears training camp,” he said. “They had to go out at 10 a.m. and take the sign down.”
The latest sign also has garnered hundreds of comments online.
“With the Trader Joe’s, a city councilman actually called the church and told them they couldn’t do that, that they had to go through the plan commission first,” Bryan said. “We put out the Indiana Beach sign at a time when it was closing and no one knew if it would return. We try to make it somewhat realistic. People seem to love it.”