ROGERS PARK — Ciao Bella Cafe opened its doors early Thursday morning on Sheridan Road, serving a full menu as well as coffee drinks, the restaurant owner said.
Christian, a former Hershey Co. sales executive, said he since has renovated portions of the interior.
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."
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 had gone up for sale recently, would be an ideal location to launch his chain.
"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.
The restaurant will also offer an expanded dinner menu with pastas. In the summer he plans to expand the outdoor seating area.
Brunch will be served on Saturdays and Sundays.
The restaurant's regular hours will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.