Carlucci closing in Downers Grove after 15 years

From www.chicagotribune.com by Phil Vettel
Carlucci closing in Downers Grove after 15 years

Carlucci, a 15-year fixture in west-suburban Downers Grove, is closing. The last day of service will be Sunday.

Owner Joe Carlucci, a major figure in Chicago’s restaurant scene for more than 25 years, has sold the property to another operator.

“This is a bittersweet affair, what’s going on here,” Carlucci said. “But the opportunity came about, and — well, there’s never a good time to do this, but it was the appropriate moment.”

For its last few days of service, Carlucci will feature a menu filled with favorites from the restaurant’s history, going back to the original Carlucci on Halsted Street, which closed in 1997. Among the featured dishes will be Carlucci’s signature Linguini Bombonato, in which noodles, prosciutto and torn basil are tossed tableside in the hollow of a Parmigiano cheese wheel.

In addition, house wines will be $5 per glass.

Carlucci said it would be “tough not to work” with his staff members, some of whom have been in Downers Grove since opening day.

“I’ve been looking for places for our employees to land,” he said, “and that’s going well. And the longtime employees are getting severance packages. I want to exit in a classy way.”

The closing leaves Carlucci without a restaurant to run (the Carlucci in Rosemont remains open, but that’s a separate operation with a licensing agreement to use the Carlucci name), but he made it clear that this was not the end of an era.

“Retire? Me? Hardly,” he said. “It’s way too soon, and I still have a lot to say. I still have my golf consulting business, helping turn around clubhouses into profitable food-and-beverage operations.

“And I’m going to open a couple more restaurants,” he said. “I almost pulled the trigger on a downtown restaurant in October, but I knew this (sale) was forthcoming, so I kind of relaxed for a few months. But I do have more to say, and for sure I’ll be opening more restaurants. So stay tuned.”

pvettel@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @philvettel

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