The new iteration of iconic Loop restaurant Petterino’s is set to reopen Oct. 5, with new owners and a revamped look.
The longtime mainstay for theatergoers and downtown business diners has been closed for the entirety of the pandemic. When it reopens next week, it will look similar on the inside but feel fresher, said Jay Speiss, director of restaurant operations at new owners The Good Plate Hospitality Group.
“When people come in here, they’re going to recognize it as Petterino’s,” he said. “We really went to great lengths to keep the character and charm here, but just also make sure everything is right, everything was fresh again.”
The celebrity caricatures—from Barack Obama to Julia Louis-Dreyfus—will still adorn the walls, but their frames have been cleaned and refinished, Speiss said. The walls they hang on got a fresh coat of paint too.
The Good Plate group also redid the light fixtures “to add a little bit more of a modern, Art-Deco feel,” Speiss said. The vast bar at the front of the restaurant was refinished, as were the booths, chairs and barstools.
The menu is getting a reboot too. Executive Chef Ozzy Amelotti, who has worked previously in Chicago at Latin American restaurant Carnivale and Vivere at the Italian Village, will helm the kitchen. Most of what the restaurant serves will be made in house, he said.
There will be ravioli with imported burrata, the pasta will be made with flour imported from Italy. There will also be steaks, cheeseburgers and more.
“The menu is like a mom-and-pop kind of recipe kitchen,” Amelotti said. “The meatballs are just fresh, (like) grandma’s recipe.”
Rich Melman, founder of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant empire, opened Petterino’s at the corner of Dearborn and Randolph streets in 2001. The group told Crain’s in July that the restaurant would change hands, but declined to disclose further details.
The Good Plate Hospitality Group is the hospitality branch of Friedman Properties, a management group and landlord that has Petterino’s building, 150 N. Dearborn St., in its portfolio. The group also operates Nonnina in the River North neighborhood, and Mexican taqueria Taco Nano and The Happ Inn Bar & Grill, both in Northfield. Speiss declined to disclose details of the transaction.
Petterino’s will not be accepting Lettuce Entertain You gift cards, nor will frequent diner club members be able to earn or redeem points there.
Restaurants suffered major hardships during the pandemic, as state restrictions forced indoor dining closures for a total of more than five months. The operators of many Loop establishments do not feel they are out of hot water yet, as the Delta variant has pushed back return to office dates for many downtown offices. Some Loop restaurants did not survive, such as Trattoria No. 10, and others have yet to reopen.
Speiss is optimistic. The theaters began reopening over the summer. Petterino’s will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, then eventually add Saturday and Sunday brunch, Speiss said. The space that formerly held Lettuce-affiliated Do-Rite Donuts is being transformed into a to-go space that will serve Italian coffee, sandwiches and sweets.
“We’re excited that the brand gets to live on,” Speiss said. “People who have been coming to Petterino’s are going to be thrilled.”