When Chef Scott Harris opened the doors to Mia Francesca on North Clark Street in 1992, he created a trend in the Chicago restaurant scene that has become a benchmark for urban dining. Mia Francesca, touted an immediate success by the press and patrons alike, was one of the first restaurants to encourage the lively art of dining with a contemporary, casually sophisticated trattoria ambiance. Featuring simple, rustic cooking, friendly service and fair prices, Mia Francesca won accolades from Chicago Magazine as “Critics’ Choice – Rookie of the Year.”
For Harris, Mia Francesca represented both a start and a finish. A veteran of many well-known Chicago restaurant kitchens including; The 95th, Ambria, Cucina Cucina, Harry’s Café, Sole Mio, and Petthany’s in St. Croix, Mia Francesca was the culmination of his years of experience and the desire to provide Chicagoans with a new style of dining. To open Mia Francesca, Harris partnered with Michael Noone and Terry Alexander, restaurant entrepreneurs in their own right, whose subsequent successes include Streetside, Mod, and Sonotheque.
Harris has expanded his vision to form the Francesca's Restaurant Group which operates restaurants throughout the Chicagoland area, San Diego, CA, Madison, WI, and Raleigh, NC. His restaurant concepts include Francesca's Restaurants, Davanti Enoteca, Glazed and Infused, Fat Rosie's Taco and Tequila Bar and Disotto. His managerial philosophy of building working partnerships with Chefs and other restaurants professionals, not just obtaining financial backers, has had a direct influence on the success of his restaurants. “We have really created a Family of Restaurants. Everyone has a vested interest in the restaurant’s success,” Harris notes.
Davanti Enoteca Executive Chef Scott Ruzicka grew up in Naperville, Illinois; a western suburb of Chicago. He knew he wanted to be a Chef since his first day of work at the age of 16 as an oven boy at a local pizzeria. He remembers leaving work covered in pizza sauce and flour but always feeling so inspired watching the Chefs he worked under. Scott worked his way through college and was encouraged by his family and friends to take his passion for cooking to the next level & he did just that going all the way to Italy to work under Master Chef Gianluca Pardini in Luca, Tuscany.
Learning the tricks of the trade, Scott came back to the states to work in a traveling food truck in North Carolina and eventually found his way back home opening up Pinstripes in Downtown Chicago. Scott joined the Francesca’s Restaurant Group after networking over Manhattans. He jokes, “good people find good people, especially over whiskey.” Scott’s sense of humor and work ethic proved to be just what the team at Davanti Enoteca in Western Springs, IL needed. Scott quickly moved up the ranks to become the Executive Chef of that restaurant. Attaining the Executive Chef position at the age of 26 is one of Scott’s greatest personal accomplishments. He attributes the success of his kitchen to his team explaining that his team “works hard and takes pride in what they do no matter how big or small the task may be”.
He keeps his food consistent by hiring staff who are just as passionate about food as he is and always reminds his team that they are not only providing a meal to their customers, but also an experience. Scott is proud of the dishes he serves claiming that unless you hop on a plane and go to Italy, you will not find better Italian here in the states. When Scott is not in the kitchen he’s working on his car, brewing beer or as he says it, “pretending to still work out.”
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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Chicago, IL (River North)
Chicago, IL (Taylor Street)
San Diego, CA (Del Mar)
San Diego, CA (Little Italy)
Glazed and Infused
800 Hillgrove Avenue. Suite 100, Western Springs, IL 60558
Phone: (708) 783-1060
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