LAKEVIEW — The long-vacant former Buca Di Beppo restaurant on Clark Street soon may house popular Ukrainian Village pizzeria Roots Handmade Pizza.
John Livaditis recently agreed to buy the property at 2941 N. Clark St. after the previous owner, who planned to build medical offices, had financial issues, according to 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney.
The developer and investor in Roots plans to tear down the building and erect a four-story mixed-used building, with Roots' Quad City-style pizza on the ground floor, he told South East Lake View Neighbors this week.
The Lakeview location would be Roots' third.
The first one opened in 2011 at 1924 W. Chicago Ave., and Livaditis is building a second location in Lincoln Square, 2200 W. Lawrence Ave.
Initially, owners Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner — the men behind Fifty/50 Restaurant Group — thought Roots would sell an equal amount of booze and food, but the place ended up being more of a place for families.
About 75 percent of the location's sales come from food, including big delivery, carryout and birthday party business, Livaditis said.
"It’s become a great family destination," Livaditis said.
Developers intend to have an "aggressive" timeline for Lakeview's location, including opening the restaurant before the condo-quality apartments are complete.
It will also have a separate takeout window, similar to the one at Wicker Park's Piece Pizzeria, 1927 W. North Ave.
The addition of Roots on Clark Street was positive news for neighbors, who've long complained of the large storefront's blighted appearance on the street since Italian restaurant Buca Di Beppo closed years ago.
Plus, the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce has been trying to to revitalize Clark Street south of Barry, which has been called ugly, unwalkable and unfriendly.
Livaditis agreed with the desire to make the front of the building as pedestrian-friendly as possible. The Chicago Avenue location has a bustling sidewalk cafe, and the Lawrence one will have outdoor seating as well.
Clark Street's sidewalks may be too narrow for a cafe, but they'll aim to do something to beautify the pedestrian level, Livaditis said.