Noise Level: Average
Good For Kids: Yes
Parking: Private Lot
Waiter Service: Yes
Bike Parking: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Good For Groups: Yes
Good For: Dinner
Credit Cards: Yes
Twenty years ago, Chef Scott Harris co-founded Francesca’s Restaurants. He has established himself as one of Chicago’s most iconic restaurateurs and the company continues to grow, winning fans and accolades across the country. Harris has earned a stellar reputation as a chef, business leader, developer of talented people and a generous contributor to his community.
Harris discovered his love of the culinary arts in high school while working at Fox’s Pub on the South Side of Chicago. He attended Joliet Jr. Culinary School and spent the next 15 years training at prestigious restaurants around Chicago. When he discovered the joys of authentic Italian cuisine, with its delicious, fresh ingredients and straightforward approach to cooking, he knew that this was what he wanted to focus upon. The restaurant was an immediate hit, not only for the quality of the food, but also its friendly, unpretentious look and feel. It was the kind of welcoming restaurant that attracted many regular customers who would eagerly come back day after day.
Twenty years later, Francesca’s has become a Chicago institution. There are 20 Francesca’s restaurants in the Chicago metropolitan area as well as locations in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona and soon, California. Harris has also created a number of other concepts, including Davanti Enoteca, a new contemporary cousin to Francesca’s and another smash success.
Over the years, and with his signature attention to detail, Harris has created a company of restaurants with individual flair and neighborhood appeal while still maintaining consistency within the brand. Francesca’s restaurants’ close-knit, family-like atmosphere results from promoting people from within rather than hiring outside applicants. All restaurant employees, from dishwashers to waiters, are encouraged to push themselves to move up within the company.
“I have been blessed to be able to take my dream of opening my own restaurant and growing that dream to where it is today,” he says. “When people step into Francesca’s and any of my restaurants, I consider it like stepping into my home. I want to welcome them with open arms and make sure they have a wonderful experience. Fortunately, we’ve been able to accomplish that for 20 years. I am very proud that we’ve gained a wonderful family of customers and an amazing family of long time, loyal employees. It’s very fulfilling to see dishwashers and cooks, who are in the position I was in 25 years ago, grow into skilled restaurant professionals.”
The year 2013 represents the beginning of a new chapter, as the company prepares for major expansion throughout the country. Harris has put a top-notch executive team in place to guide this growth while maintaining the personal, family-like company feeling that is at the core of the Francesca’s brand. Scott Harris is a native of Chicago. He currently lives in the Chicago and San Diego areas with his wife and two children.
Chris Elsey, long time managing partner at Francesca’s Restaurants, met Scott Harris over 25 years ago when they both worked at Harry’s Cafe on Rush Street. Scott Harris was the chef and Chris was a server while also being full time teacher during the day. When Scott Harris was named chef at L’Angolo di Roma in Lincoln Park Chris followed him knowing that his brilliance in the kitchen would be noticed immediately. Scott finally opened his dream restaurant, Mia Francesca, in 1992. Chris was there to serve the first table that walked in and the rest is history. Scott Harris has grown Francesca’s with over 20 locations in 20 years!
In 1999, Scott and Chris opened up the sixth Francesca’s location, Francesca’s Amici, in downtown Elmhurst. Scott noticed that Chris had a knack for training and developing key staff members for the continued growth of Francesca’s.
He soon became the Director of Training and Development and would assist in the opening new locations. Over the years, Chris has had many opportunities with hiring, training, and leading many future managers and General Managers for the growth of Francesca’s.
Davanti Enoteca in Western Springs will be the fifth overall location and the second in the Chicagoland area. Chris will be the managing partner of this location and will bring the highest standards in food quality as well as customer service.
“Over the years, Scott has repeatedly preached the importance of paying attention to the smallest of details. The attention to detail builds repeat customers in all of our Francesca locations. Our staff builds long lasting relationships with many customers by treating them like family. Repeat business in the restaurant world is no mistake. By making sure our entire staff is well trained in all aspects of customer service we will make Davanti Enoteca in Western Springs an incredible restaurant for the western suburbs and beyond.”
Chris lives in Elmhurst with his wife Susan, and their four children, Jonathon, Caroline, Cameron, and Catie.
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