Suburban News

Simplicity and freshness the focus at Lantern Pizza Co.

After spending three decades in the food industry, Dan and Kim Coudreaut decided to try their hand at their own delicious dream, serving up hot slices at Lantern Pizza Co. in Downers Grove.

Dan, originally a New Yorker, conceived the business after developing a fascination with pizza making and going to Italy to perfect the craft. At Lantern, the focus is on simplicity and freshness. The dough, sauce and cheese are made fresh daily.

“You can’t bake freshness,” Dan said as he pulled a pizza out of the Italian pizza oven in the kitchen of his restaurant. “Here’s a food that’s been around for 300 years. It’s connected to humanity and there’s something really exciting about that.”

Lantern Pizza, 1420 Ogden Ave., is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is family-run. Kim runs the front of the house, while Dan and their two children, Chase, 17, and Danielle, 21, focus on making the pizzas.

The menu is simple, Dan said, featuring a pineapple and bacon pizza, as well as traditional options such as cheese, pepperoni and mushroom. Customers also can build their own pizza. Other menu items such as the arugula salad also are. seeing success with diners.

“I never would have guessed I’d be making pizzas with my kids in a restaurant I own with my wife,” Dan said. “There’s so many different restaurants we could have opened up, but I’m so glad we stuck with this.”

Dan and Kim spent four years thinking about and planning for Lantern Pizza, and they knew what they wanted when they set out to do it. Dan said the pizza industry is one that actually grew during the pandemic, and the only thing the pandemic changed for Lantern was its location, helping it end up in Downers Grove.

Locating in Downers Grove meant being in a building that was once a 1970s Taco Bell and, subsequently, an Enterprise Rent-A-Car, something Dan proudly said gives the restaurant character. He and Kim hope to change the way hospitality is perceived in restaurants and they promise a welcome and a smile for every customer who walks in the door.

“We’re very passionate about food, and the first part of our mission is hospitality,” he said. “We want to change the feeling you get when you walk into our restaurant. It’s a simple thing that’s missing nowadays and something the industry needs to be focused on.”

The restaurant also takes pride in hiring locally and training the next generation of chefs, Dan said. Lantern currently is hiring and focuses on teaching its employees, about 60% of whom are in high school.

For Dan and his family, the days start at 8:30 a.m. and don’t wrap up until 10 p.m., but somehow the hours still fly by. Lantern Pizza is something Dan and his family have built for themselves, and seeing the smiles of customers everyday motivates them to continue their mission.

“It’s pretty magical,” Dan said. “I just love it. Pizza is a food for the people and there’s just such a wonderful thing about it.”