I invite you to attend a community meeting to review a proposal for an Italian restaurant and bar at 1631 W. Howard (just east of the Howard Red Line Station). The meeting will take place next Wednesday, December 6th, 7:00 p.m., at the Willye White Park Fieldhouse, 1610 W. Howard (at Ashland).
Salerno’s Restaurants, a family-owned chain of Italian eateries with locations throughout the Chicago area, including its flagship location at Grand and Racine, is looking to open its 11th restaurant here in Rogers Park.
Rob Salerno, a second generation member of the Salerno family, set his sights on the old Howard Theater building in the storefront formerly occupied by Little Unicoco, a Nigerian restaurant, which closed earlier this year (see photo on right).
Mr. Salerno proposes to operate a traditional sit-down restaurant, with a take-out counter in a room located just east of the dining area. Mr. Salerno also proposes to provide seating at a bar, which will be situated in the west side of the dining area.
Mr. Salerno and Howard Theater building owner, Jay Johnson, are requesting a zoning change from the property’s current B1-3 classification to B3-3 in order to operate a bar in the restaurant.
A B1-3 zoning classification allows for a restaurant in which no alcoholic liquor is served or in which the service of alcohol is “incidental” to the service of food. Generally, City zoning regulators interpret this zoning designation to mean that the sale of alcoholic liquor cannot constitute more than 50% of a restaurant’s gross revenues and food must be available for purchase whenever alcoholic beverages are served.
A B3-3 zoning classification allows a restaurant to sell alcoholic beverages without any of the above restrictions.
Mr. Salerno plans to start a take-out and delivery service in January and hopes to open the restaurant by early next summer, assuming he receives the zoning change.
The Salerno family got its start in the restaurant business over 50 years ago when brothers Vincenzo, Arnaldo and Joseph opened the Berwyn Tavern in 1966, which later became known as Salerno’s Restaurant.
In addition to the Grand and Racine location, the first generation Salerno family owns restaurants in Bolingbrook, Lyons, Oak Park, and River Grove. The second generation of Salernos, including Rob, owns restaurants in Aurora, Hodgkins, Libertyville, Lisle and Gilbert, Arizona.
Rob Salerno plans to bring some slices of Salerno’s pizza to the community meeting for residents to sample.
I urge you to attend the meeting. If you are unable to do so, please feel free to share your comments and questions by replying to this email.