27 Jan Ofer Eitan Report: Mike Del Pietro to open second restaurant in Edwardsville
Mike Del Pietro, one of the city’s most prolific culinarians, is busy planning his next endeavor. Michael Del Pietro Restaurant Group currently operates nine restaurants in the metro area—all serving iterations of Italian food. Later this spring, a tenth restaurant will be added, in Edwardsville, Illinois, his second in that city. The new restaurant will serve eclectic American cuisine, a departure from the company’s prior vocation.
Late last week, Del Pietro signed a lease for a 3,000-square-foot space at The Parkway, a 26-acre, $50 million mixed-use development at the corner of Governors’ Parkway and Illinois Route 157 in Edwardsville.
The development, which includes mixed-use residential units, is located across from Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville and adjacent to Edwardsville High School. Also in the development is Doc’s Smokehouse, which in November moved from across the street into a larger space.
According to Del Pietro, the 100-seat restaurant (plus a 40-seat patio in front) will open for breakfast and lunch daily, as well as for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. The frontrunner for the still-to-be-named restaurant is Blue Violet, named after the state flower of Illinois.
After having owned a Sugo’s Spaghetteria location in Edwardsville for the past seven years, Del Pietro feels that he knows the market.
“It won’t be a run-of-the-mill place,” Del Pietro says. “While we’ll serve basics—like pancakes, waffles, and burgers—the food will be edgier, farther-reaching, items you might find at a nicer brunch.” He hints at possible Southwestern and Southern influences, for example. Complementing the food will be a bar with a full range of brunch-style cocktails and more standard offerings at night.
“Where we’re located, we anticipate a steady breakfast and lunch business,” he says. “And opening for weekend nights is a safe way to test dinner demand.”
Del Pietro acknowledges the difficulties associated with restaurants that attempt to accommodate all three meal periods. “For what we’re planning, if you don’t change up the lights, the music, and the vibe at night, as well as the food, the dinner part won’t work,” he says. “That’s the challenge.”
The architect for the project is Scott Volding of Volding Architecture; the interior design firm has yet to be determined. Del Pietro says he’s thinking more along the lines of “the minimalist and modern look of Il Palato rather than, say, the barnwood feel of Sugo.”
The general manager will be Micah Hopkin, who will also continue to manage the Edwardsville location of Sugo’s. “If it weren’t for people who understand the business like Micah, expanding would be impossible,” Del Pietro says. Operations manager Ryan French adds that “Micah has become like the Michael of Edwardsville. He knows and loves the city, and the customers love him.”
Del Pietro observes that Edwardsville’s restaurant market has yet to become oversaturated and that the city is growing gradually and purposefully. “If I didn’t live in St. Louis,” he says, “I could easily live here.”