"I would much rather close a restaurant, put money into redoing it, reconcept the whole thing, and then open it again rather than do (American-Italian.)"
That's John Des Rosiers, chef-proprietor of Moderno, Inovasi, and Wisma, talking about the closing of his Highland Park Italian space Moderno. Des Rosiers and executive chef Phil Rubino are reopening it as Royce, which will serve "chef-driven 1930's-inspired food," next month. Saturday is Moderno's hurrah; remodeling starts Sunday.
They're basing their decision mostly on the North Shore clientele, not enough of them took to the authentic-Italian, farm-raised, house-made concept. Their customers might have wanted chicken parmesan, something Des Rosiers and Rubino refused to offer.
"We're trying to do concepts that are more elaborate than what there is on the North Shore," Des Rosiers said. "People didn't like looking at menus that had words they didn't understand on it."
Royce won't have that problem, it's main menu item is burgers inspired by 1930's diners. There's six signature burgers on the menu plus a build-your-own option. It also features mains, appetizers, salads, and dessert; everything made in-house from farm-raised sustainable ingredients, like all their projects. Their beverage program will offer beer (all craft on tap, 20 craft bottles), small-production wines (25 total, 15 glass), plus bourbon, whiskey, and vodka.
It will be the same build-out, but "completely different" design. This means it's still large (210 seats, plus 150 patio seats in summer), and new color schemes, logo, and awning.
The name is inspired by a New York trip three months ago, where they were wowed by the West Village's Barbuto, which is housed in an old Rolls Royce garage. They were so wowed they're talking about opening "three or four of these," including in the city. Look up north in three weeks for the first.