Destination eatery planned for downtown Glencoe
Glencoe Friday 10/19/12 Restaurant Manger, Phil Marienthal and Chef Christian Ragano are pictured in front of a new restaurant that will open in downtown Glencoe. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 7, 2012 2:20PM
GLENCOE — After decades of failing to sustain a destination-grade restaurant, downtown Glencoe will soon have one likely to have legs.
Hedge fund CEO Alec Litowitz is the driving force behind the restaurant, expected to open in February in the vacant Wienecke Hardware/Active Endeavors space, 694 Vernon Ave.
The restaurant, yet unnamed, is unlikely to be under-financed. Litowitz’ Magnetar Capital prospered during the economic crash, and his net worth is estimated in the hundreds of millions. His family lives in a 10,000 square-foot Glencoe mansion.
“We’re not going to cut corners on any of this,” the nine-year resident said Oct. 21. “I want it to be something special.
“I’m proud of the town and I want the town to be proud of the restaurant.”
Village President Scott Feldman crowed Oct. 17, “I’m excited no matter what kind of food it is. American, Armenian, Vietnamese or Ethiopian – anything that will bring new people downtown.”
The cuisine, Litowitz said, is American, and “simple, without a zillion ingredients,” but exactly what that entails will be left to others: “I’ve got a day job.”
His partner is his Glencoe friend Eric Fosse. Fosse owns HomeMade Pizza, a chain of take-it-and-bake-it pizza shops in Glencoe and 25 other locations.
Also on board is manager Phil Marienthal, founding owner of Chicago’s Blue Mesa, and a long history managing in Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago’s dominant restaurant enterprise.
Chef Christian Ragano worked his way up the ranks at NoMi in Chicago’s Park Hyatt Hotel, and was the founding chef of New York Central in Manhattan.
Ragano expects his menu to include “wood-roasted meats and fish,” he said Friday. “We’ll do a lot of local-sourcing on produce, and source as much organic as we possibly can.”
Fosse and Litowitz are committed to dinner and Sunday brunch, but aren’t sure lunch is worth it.
Marienthal said he’s lobbying for daily lunch, partly as “a lead-in for the weekend.” The menu, he said, is intended to be “approachable,” with food for children as well as their parents.
Fosse said the prices will be on a range “not as highbrow as the Blackhawk, and not lowbrow, either.”
Litowitz and his wife Jennifer are both fans of the Writers’ Theatre – she’s a trustee – which is finishing plans to rebuild at 325 Tudor Court.
“Two hundred fifty people a night, six nights a week,” Litowitz said. “We want to give them a nice place to go.”
The designer for the 6,000 square-foot, 130-seat restaurant is as hot as Studio Gang, the architects for the theater. 555 International has designed the eye-catching interiors for Chicago’s Girl & the Goat and GT Fish & Oyster.
Litowitz said he wants a high-energy decor and environment, good service, good food, wine and liquor, and “if it fails, that will mean there’s no demand for it.”