DOWNERS GROVE – Popular downtown Downers Grove eatery Scarletti's Italian Kitchen closed its doors for good this June.
Pam Kellam said when she opened the restaurant with husband Paul Giagnorio in December 2010, they thought running the business would allow them to spend more time together.
"However, what we didn't realize was that we would have so little quality time together or with our family," the Hinsdale couple wrote in a closing message to their customers. "We have missed many flagship family events these past few years and there have been several others that only one of us could attend while the other stayed behind to manage the restaurant."
She said in a phone interview that they initially planned to open a pizzeria because of Giagnorio's family's successful chain of six pizza restaurants. But when they found the space to lease at the corner of Main Street and Warren Avenue, they decided to go for a full Italian menu, in addition to the pizza pies.
Kellam said she is still enjoying her new-found free time, but there is a lot to miss, as well.
"We definitely miss the food that we cooked there," she said. "We miss all the people. It was nice, we got to know all our guests really well."
She said Giagnorio also works a full-time corporate job.
"He worked early in the morning until it was time to go to Scarletti's," she said. "It's tough to own a restaurant when you have another full-time job.
"It was a great experience. We're real proud of what we did, and it just became overwhelming when it came to the number of hours. So we decided it would be better for us long term to not continue doing it."
They wrote in the message to customers that before closing, the business had hoped to add a private party room to host more private events. That would have enabled it to increase its staffing structure, making the restaurant less dependent on the owners.
"Unfortunately, we are landlocked at this location," they wrote. "When we investigated other potential sites, we didn't find a new location that fit us."
When asked if they might consider another venture into the restaurant world, Kellem said "never say never."
"But right now we're kind of enjoying our free time."
Downtown Downers Grove Management Corporation Director Linda Kunze said the realtor recently hosted an open house for the location, and that several restaurants have already inquired about the space.
The 3,100 square-foot space seats about 75 inside and another 35 people outside. It also has a separate carry-out section.
"I really see another restaurant coming in here," she said.