ROGERS PARK — Pillars Social Cafe, after about a year in business, closed Wednesday afternoon, the restaurant's owner said.
The popular cafe and brunch spot is in the process of being sold and will reopen under a new name, Ciao Bella Café.
Darren Christian, of Winnetka, is under contract to purchase the restaurant's assets from Bob Kassal, who opened Pillars at 6800 N. Sheridan Rd. about a year ago.
Christian, a former Hershey Co. sales executive, plans to temporarily close the restaurant for remodeling after final contracts are signed.
Christian said he plans to open "sometime in March."
Much of the menu and atmosphere will remain unchanged, he said.
"There will be an Italian flair," said the 47-year-old, "but it's not a full-scale Italian restaurant."
Kassal, who has been the face of Pillars since it opened, declined to comment about why he decided to sell the restaurant's assets, but confirmed Wednesday would be the final day of business at the eatery.
"It was so wonderful to have mom's and dad's [sic] come in with the little ones and brighten up my day. Looking forward to seeing many of you as I stroll Marley (my pup) through the neighborhood. Thanks again for making this past year a memorable chapter in my life," Kassal later posted to Pillars' Facebook page.
Christian said he quit his corporate job at Hershey's to pursue opening a series of restaurants in the Chicago area.
"This has always been a goal of mine," he said.
He said he's been working for five years to open Ciao Bella Café and decided the Pillar's location, which went up for sale recently, would be an ideal location to launch his chain of restaurants.
"I wasn't thinking Rogers Park," he said, "but after learning more about the community" it turned out to be a good fit.
He said he has plans to expand the chain, including smaller locations dubbed "Ciao Bella Express," after the final details are set for the Rogers Park location.
Christian plans to retain Kassal's employees.
The restaurant will also offer an expanded dinner menu with pastas. In the summer he plans to expand the outdoor seating area.
There are also plans to renovate portions of the interior of the space to better disperse natural light, he said.