NWI.com : Gene & Georgetti celebrating in Rosemont with second Italian Steakhouse

A visit to Gene & Georgetti Italian Steakhouse in downtown Chicago is a legendary experience.

After all, this is the place where Bob HopeFrank Sinatra and Lucille Ball stopped in while “in town” when they wanted a great char-grilled steak in an intimate atmosphere with a “family feel.”

And launched in 1941, a happy landmark with its same location at 500 N. Franklin St. nestled under the noise of the El Tracks, it also ranks as Chicago’s “first Italian steakhouse.”

Last weekend welcomed very big news and an exciting new chapter in the restaurant history scrapbook for Gene & Georgetti patrons.

Gene & Georgetti has a new and exciting second restaurant and event space at 9421 W. Higgins Road in Rosemont, Ill. What was previously the Rosewood restaurant and banquet hall owned by Jim Mandas has been remodeled and has an elegant new look and life along with all of the traditions that make the Gene & Georgetti reputation unmatched in restaurant and hospitality know-how.

The original Gene & Georgetti was founded in 1941 by Gene Michelotti and his partner Alfredo Federighi, who was nicknamed “Georgetti” after a famous Italian cyclist. Located in the heart of River North, Gene & Georgetti remains known for the intimate dining space and bar area, crammed with photos of the famed celeb visitors, and great food.

Born in the small Tuscan town of Lucca, Italy, Michelotti came to the United States at the age of 15; several years later, he married Ida Passaglia in April 1938. Though he spoke little-to-no English, he worked numerous jobs ranging from night watchman and porter, to dishwasher and bartender, where he encountered his future business partner “Georgetti,” who was working as a chef.

In 1941, they founded Gene and Georgetti, with Alfredo in the kitchen, and Gene out front at the bar. Upon Alfredo’s death in 1969, Gene became the sole proprietor of Gene & Georgetti, until his death in 1989, when Gene’s daughter Marion, who married Tony Durpetti in 1969, took over, along with their daughter Michelle Durpetti, to continue the legacy.

Sunday’s red carpet opening party celebration and ribbon-cutting attracted hundreds of invited guests and VIPs. The family was joined by Mayor Brad Stephens to do the ribbon-cutting honors and family priest Rev. Michael Doyle of Assumption Catholic Church said a blessing.

The expansive 1,800 sq. ft property not only features the 260-seat restaurant, but also a large event wing and private party area called The Estate.

The family is using the next few weeks to prepare for the public opening July 22. Richard Ciota, who is Michelle Durpetti’s cousin, is a managing partner and will serve as the restaurant’s general manager. Durpetti brings her expertise of private, corporate and wedding planning and production to her role as marketing and special events manager. Both Ciota and Durpetti are proud to be the third generation, inspired by founder Gene Michelotti; great uncle to Ciota and grandfather to Durpetti.

“I’m excited about continuing and growing the Gene & Georgetti legacy,” Ciota said.

“I want to thank the Village of Rosemont for this opportunity.”

This new restaurant space is inspired by Gene & Georgetti’s classic atmosphere, and along with the menu, will keep with the tradition, consistency, and reputation for quality that the Gene & Georgetti name is known for. This marks the first expansion for the family owned and operated business since opening in River North in 1941.

“As we approach our milestone 75th Anniversary, we are excited to grow the Gene & Georgetti brand,” Tony Durpetti said.

“We have a great team in place and we are looking forward to this new opportunity. We have had other offers to expand in the past, but we feel that Rosemont gives us the best opportunity to move forward.”

Back in January 2012, I attended a party in Chicago hosted by this restaurant family for the screening of the great documentary called “Gene & Georgetti: The Movie” by Loudbyte Cinematography. The documentary features Rich MelmanPhil StefaniRobert Hatoff, president of Allen Brothers Steaks, and other notables, plus never-before-heard stories about all the famous guests from the past, and more recent regulars like Russell CroweKeanu ReevesVince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell, along with international, national and local politicians.

My favorite Gene & Georgetti story is when Lucille Ball was filming scenes in Chicago for her 1974 feature film musical “Mame.” After using a neighborhood restaurant for scenes portraying a party at a 1920s speakeasy, Lucy enjoyed a night of great food and drinks at Gene & Georgetti. The next day, she decided she wanted to “buy-out” the restaurant for a single day to hold the filming “wrap party” there, and had the Warner Bros. studio staff call to make arrangements. When she found out the owners refused to close to their “regular customers” for a private event, Lucy was surprised to hear someone say “no,” despite a studio’s dollar signs, and personally called to tell the owners so herself, while reluctantly agreeing to move the party date to another day, when the restaurant was normally closed anyway.

FYI: (312) 527-3718 or geneandgeorgetti.com

Gene & Georgetti – Movie Trailer from Loudbyte Cinematography on Vimeo.

Full feature available on nwi.com.

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