Phil Stefani reopens renowned Tuscany on Taylor but warns: We won’t survive until spring
Meanwhile, famous prognosticator Sister Jean offers her prediction for the November election.
One plate at a time.
Italian food, please.
Chicago’s Little Italy, once the mecca of all food Italian in the lively environs of Taylor Street, has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Although yummy stellars like Al’s Beef, Mario’s Italian Lemonade and Pompei are still open for business, only one of the area’s full-service Italian eateries — Phil Stefani’s Tuscany on Taylor — is currently open for business.
(Mia Francesca and Davanti Enoteca have closed. Alex Dana’s legendary Rosebud location on Taylor, a celeb hangout known worldwide, is closed for now, although Dana tells Sneed he hopes to reopen soon. We’re waiting and salivating.)
“I know we are taking a chance,” said Stefani, who threw open the doors Thursday night of his 30-year-old Tuscany restaurant, 1014 W. Taylor St. The restaurant has been a hangout of such notables as Jerry Reinsdorf, Bill Clinton, Michael Jordan and Joe Biden, who is also a huge Rosebud fan.
“COVID shut us down on March 17, and we’ve been closed ever since,” he said.
“The staff has been begging us to reopen as well as loyal customers, so we decided to try it.”
Stefani, who operated a travel business when he opened his first eatery, Stefani’s on Fullerton Avenue, in 1980 — replete with a singing waiter who drew a huge fan base — had 16 operational restaurants until coronavirus pummeled the restaurant business nationwide.
His River North Bar Cargo eatery — now run by his daughter, Gina — was looted during an early demonstration protesting the merciless killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. It has since reopened.
Now only nine of his 16 restaurants are open, including Stefani Prime in Lincolnwood, which is run by his son, Anthony.
“It’s really impossible to operate at this level with limited seating,” he said.
“We won’t survive until next spring if COVID lasts at this level. When we say over 60 percent of restaurants might fail, it’s not conversation. It’s the truth.”
But even though “opening Tuscany might not be the right business decision now ... we are going to try.”
Trump ‘em . . .
Sister Jean Kenny, the sports prognosticator who rarely gets it wrong, recently called Sneed from Indiana with a new prediction.
Only it’s within the realm of politics this time.
Quoth Sister Jean: “I just read your column on coach Mike Ditka’s endorsement of [President] Trump’s reelection via Ditka’s interview with Donald Trump Jr.
“So here it is,” she trumpeted.
“Joe Biden wins by a landslide!” she said.
“Take that to the bank!”