Gene & Georgetti plans to launch a new concept in a River North location with historical significance — it’s at the site where restaurant namesake Gene Michelotti met his wife, Ida.
Michelle Durpetti, co-managing partner of Gene & Georgetti, isn’t divulging details just yet.
The family operates a second Gene & Georgetti restaurant and an event and wedding venue called the Estate in Rosemont.
You have to have strong elbows to survive in Chicago’s restaurant world, where you find “a steakhouse on every corner,” she told me.
And Durpetti and her family aren’t afraid to use them. They recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mirabella, a newly opened steakhouse that serves Italian steakhouse cuisine strikingly similar to Gene’s.
Its owner and chef is Arturo Aucaquizhpi, an Ecuadoran immigrant who previously worked 20 years at Gene & Georgetti, including as executive chef, before opening his own place on West Addison Street.
Mirabella’s thick-cut potato chips are dead ringers for those served at Gene & Georgetti. Even the china plates are similar, Durpetti told me.
Through a spokeswoman, Aucaquizhpi declined to comment.
Durpetti said she and her family applaud their former chef for pursuing the American dream. “That’s how Gene & Georgetti began,” she said. “What we didn’t foresee was someone leaving the brand and taking with them things that do not belong to them. It’s our responsibility to protect our brand.”
There’s a reason Durpetti speaks so passionately about Gene & Georgetti. Gene Michelotti was her maternal grandfather. Richard Ciotta, also co-managing partner of the restaurant, is Durpetti’s cousin. Ciotta’s grandmother was Michelotti’s sister.
“We aren’t mad,” Durpetti says of the squabble with Mirabella. “We’re just disappointed by the lack of professionalism.”
Michael Sacks hails the tax hike
Don’t read anything into Michael Sacks buying a new home in Florida just as Illinois lawmakers approved a big income tax increase. He’s not moving to the Sunshine State, which doesn’t collect a personal income tax.
The CEO of investment adviser GCM Grosvenor tells me the expansive home he bought at the exclusive Surf Club near Miami is just an investment.
“I am 100 percent committed to Chicago. It is home and always will be,” he said. “I fully support restoring the tax rate and was a member of the Civic Committee task force that called for it.”
Sacks, an investor of Sun-Times’ owner Wrapports LLC, said he’s encouraged that Springfield Democrats and Republicans “came together” to end the budget stalemate. “I hope that keeps happening. This politics of division has to stop.”
Meet the Wonder Woman of Chicago seas
One of the few women who will skipper a boat during this year’s Race to Mackinac has also been instrumental in transforming Chicago’s sailing scene.
“It’s not about whether you’re a man or woman. It’s about being good,” said Sarah Renz.
The Chicago businesswoman has raced the Mac 15 times, tried out for the America’s Cup and won national awards for speed sailing. She was among the first Chicago sailors (man or woman) to participate in match racing, a form of competitive sailing, and win the Great Lakes Match Race Championship for Chicago.
Fifteen years ago, Renz introduced Chicago financier Don Wilson to match racing and he’s since built an internationally known match-racing center on Belmont Harbor.
When she’s not on the seas, Renz runs the Berteau Group, a marketing and consulting company she founded.
The Lake Bluff native attended South Carolina’s College of Charleston, a school known for its sailing prowess.
On what she likes about the sport, Renz said: “The strategy side of it and the teamwork. You have to be quick and confident in the decisions you make.”
More than 300 boats have registered for the 333-mile Race to Mackinac, affectionately called “the Mac.” The event kicks off July 15. Sailors from 40 states and nine countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, will be competing, according to the Chicago Yacht Club, which runs the race.
Green Tie Ball’s got a Gaga feel
Beth Heller has lined up DJ White Shadow (Lady Gaga‘s producer) and “Chicago Fire” star Taylor Kinney (who was engaged to Gaga) to headline the Green Tie Ball.
The event funds Chicago Gateway Green, a nonprofit that plants trees and beautifies the city.
Heller is co-chair of this year’s ball Sept. 15 with Jacky Ferro, a civic leader and wife of Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro.
Heller and Ferro’s partnership is notable on the fundraising scene as so few women team up to chair big philanthropic events.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.