by Dave Noble, Your Neighbors and Your Neighborhoods Beat Writer
ELMHURST – Expressing frustration while wiping away tears, local resident and community activist Rory Lester warned a group of reporters Wednesday that recent demolition projects on the north side of Elmhurst are a signal that “the end is near for this great part of town” and vowed to do “whatever it takes” to stop business revitalization in his neighborhood.
“We had a perfectly good hotel until they leveled it last year,” said Lester, who lives a few blocks east of York Street. “And now they’re about to knock down Steven’s Steakhouse. Are we going to lose our laundromat next? Our drive-thru cigarette hut? Are they gonna bulldoze the goddamn self-serve car wash?”
The 62-year-old Elmhurst native has led several causes in recent years to bring back iconic north side businesses, including a GoFundMe.com campaign to purchase Steven’s, and an ill-advised petition aimed at reopening Yorky’s fast food restaurant.
“We were well on our way to buying the steakhouse,” said Lester, who claims that fund pledges to the account topped $900. In a separate petition drive last year to protest the closing of Yorky’s, Lester collected 33 signatures before learning that the restaurant was only shut down temporarily for remodeling.
While he admits to being irritated by changes of any kind to the north side of Elmhurst, nothing strikes a more personal chord for Lester than the 2013 closure and subsequent demolition of The Waverton Hotel.
“Some of the best hookers in the suburbs operated out of there,” lamented Lester, who added that he and prostitutes frequently enjoyed the hotel’s Mayan Adventure Indoor Waterpark before engaging in sexual acts. “I can still hook up with girls at the Extended Stay, but they don’t have a waterpark there. Or a bar.”