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Kapos: Lisa Madigan pulls in names, cash

Lisa Madigan (center) talks with business consultant Barbara Pollack (left) and retired health care executive Kathleen Gaffney. | Shia Kapos/Sun-Times

Lisa Madigan‘s “Lead, Women, Lead” annual campaign fundraiser packed the house at Maggiano’s Banquets on Monday.

The Illinois attorney general is in her fourth term and tells me she wants to make sure she has resources necessary to mount a campaign for re-election. About 300 people attended. Tickets ranged from $75 to $5,000.

“It costs more and more money to get your message out, and you have to be prepared because you never know what’s going to happen,” Madigan said.

Was she referring to national or state politics? Maybe both.

Madigan called the presidential election “demoralizing” but the reaction to it — with women’s and other marches — “incredible.”

“I’m in a place where I want to be,” she said, in terms of tackling issues related to women’s health care, student loan borrowers, immigration and the LGBT community. “We as Democrat attorneys general are standing for what America is supposed to be all about. It’s about upholding our rights and our Constitution.”

Madigan also addressed the state budget impasse caused in large part by stalled negotiations between Gov. Bruce Rauner and her father, House Speaker Mike Madigan.

“It’s a horrible situation,” Lisa Madigan said. “It’s unconscionable that there hasn’t been a budget in place because people who rely on state services are suffering.”

Is it something she and her father talk about during family gatherings? Nope.

When there are grandchildren about, her father is focused only on them, she said. Indeed, Madigan’s mom, Shirley Madigan, attended the luncheon with pictures of Lisa’s two daughters hanging on a lanyard around her neck.

“She’s everyone’s favorite Madigan,” Lisa Madigan said of her mom, prompting laughter and applause.

The headliners, along with Madigan, were new Planned Parenthood of Illinois CEO Jennifer Welch and former two-term governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm.

Mamma mia, Italian Village turns 90!

Italian Village wasn’t nominated for any James Beard awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry handed out Monday in Chicago. That’s OK by Gina Capitanini, who runs the eatery billed as serving Italian food longer than any Chicago restaurant. It turns 90 this year.

Gina Capitanini | Provided photo
Gina Capitanini | Provided photo

“We’re a part of history,” Capitanini said, ticking off all the events that have swirled around the restaurant over the years from Prohibition to revamping the Loop and theater districts.

The Village, as regulars call it, was started by Capitanini’s Italian immigrant grandfather, who handed down the restaurant to her father and then to Capitanini and her two siblings. When her brothers went on to other careers, she stayed.

“We have some employees who have been with us for 50 years. They remember me as a little kid who came in on Sundays with my dad,” she said. “They’ve seen me grow up. It really does feel like family here.”

Capitanini stands out now as one of the city’s few women restaurant owners and the Village has survived a changing restaurant landscape. There was a time when Italian Village faced few nearby competitors. Now there are more restaurants than Capitanini can count.

The competition has pushed Italian Village to adapt to changing appetites, she said. The manicotti recipe from Italy is still a staple, but now the Village serves gourmet pizza, too.

And while new restaurants thrive on social media for buzz, the Village relies on real word of mouth.

“People come in all the time remembering their first prom here, or homecoming,”Capitanini said.

Or they marvel at the big-name guests from over the years. Frank Sinatra celebrated one of his four marriages at the restaurant. Luciano Pavarotti marked a birthday there. Umberto II, the last king of Italy, and George Clooney dined there too. And retired Blackhawks star Bobby Hull and former Mayor Richard M. Daley were regulars.

Today, Italian Village is a place for secluded dining. Guests are suits from the banking and legal worlds.

CEOs strike a pose

Civic leaders Neal Zucker, Pam Strobel and John Hart enlisted their good friends to support Chicago High School or the Arts at its recent Kerfuffle fundraiser.

Neal Zucker (from left), Pam Strobel, ChiArts artistic director Jose Ochoa and student singer Ravyn Lenae. | Photo by Cheri Eisenberg
Neal Zucker (from left), Pam Strobel, ChiArts artistic director Jose Ochoa and student singer Ravyn Lenae. | Photo by Cheri Eisenberg

The school was started just seven years ago and has sent on numerous young people to fame.

Maybe that’s why the event is so popular with the social set. It reminds them all of their dreams of making it big on stage or screen.

Mingling among guests at the Chicago History Museum, where the event was held, were Desiree Rogers, the CEO of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, a subsidiary of the Johnson Publishing Co.; former Steppenwolf Theatre board chair Nora Daley; Terminal Getaway Spa CEO Marko Iglendza; HSN Media President Estelle Walgreen; and Blue Spruce interior design founder Julie Latsko. Strobel is a former Exelon executive, and Hart is chairman emeritus of Hart Davis Hart Wine Co.

Guests left the performing to the high school students, but Zucker, CEO of Corporate Cleaning window-washing company, was spotted striking a pose on stage with a few friends for a fun photo.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.