WICKER PARK — The popular Big Star group is getting bigger and planning to take over the Francesca's Forno prime corner restaurant space in Wicker Park, making it their fourth venture within one block.
Sunday was the last day for Francesca's Forno, an Italian restaurant from the Mia Francesca chain of eateries at 1576 N. Milwaukee Ave, which operates five other city spots. News of the changes was reported by Eater on Friday.
Before Forno, many years back, the space at the busy North, Damen and Milwaukee intersection was home to Soul Kitchen, an upscale soul food eatery from Terry Alexander, an owner and partners of both One Off Hospitality and Francesca's Restaurant Group.
"Alexander has owned the property since 1995, when he opened Soul Kitchen. Negotiations with Francesca's Scott Harris and Michael Noone were recently finalized, and One Off Hospitality Group will unveil a new concept in 2016," said Jenna Liberman, a spokeswoman for One Off Hospitality.
One Off Hospitality also owns nearby Dove's Luncheonette, Big Star and The Violet Hour.
On Saturday, server and Logan Square resident Brady Van Patten said "everyone is sad to see it [Francesca's Forno] go." Next week, Van Patten will begin working at Francesca's at 200 E. Chestnut St. in the Gold Coast.
Van Patten was unsure of how many workers are at the Wicker Park spot but said that the management, who broke the news last week, are making sure that everyone will find work elsewhere.
"No one is leaving unhappy," Van Patten said, who added he'll miss the view from the corner restaurant the most.
"This is a crucial center for Wicker Park. You see so many people coming in and out, I really think this is the best view in the neighborhood," Van Patten said.
Glazed and Infused's walk-up doughnut window at the back of the restaurant and facing the CTA Damen Blue Line "L" stop will remain open through mid-December and then relocate somewhere else in the area after that, Liberman said.
The 10,950-square-foot prominent three-story building, anchored by Francesca’s Forno on the ground level with six apartments upstairs, is 111-years-old and owned by Timothy Glascott, county records show. Glascott is owner of Glascott’s Saloon in Lincoln Park and a prolific real estate investor whose firm, Glascott & Associates, owns the buildings that house the former Beachwood Inn and the new Pub Royale, along others.
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