By DIANE TURNER-HURNS
Journal & Topics Reporter
The smell of fresh pizza may not be rising from the new Moretti’s restaurant in Rosemont until this spring.
The new tenant in Rosemont Plaza on Higgins Road was expected to open this month through an earlier agreement with the village, but because of soil remediation and other ongoing work, it is not expected to open until May 1. However, restaurant owners say they will begin hiring staff this month.
“Service is key for us so we like to hire staff early on and train them so once the restaurant opens we are ready to go,” said Mark Hoffman, vice president of Ala Carte Entertainment, Moretti’s owner.
Last May, Schaumburg-based Ala Carte and Rosemont entered into a revised agreement where the new Moretti’s would open at its new location in Rosemont Plaza, located on the south side of Higgins Road west of River Road, by Friday, Jan. 6.
“There are always hurdles during construction. But this time we had to do a lot of soil remediation work due to possible pollution and had to work closely with the state,” Hoffman said. “But we’re in good shape and looking forward to opening.”
He added that new menu items are in the works, “So it’s an exciting time. The village has been great to work with during this whole process.”
In August 2014, the Journal reported on the village’s sale of Rosemont Plaza to Moretti’s for $3.4 million. Rosemont had purchased the strip center several years ago from a private owner.
In 2014, the village approved an agreement to amend the Higgins Road-River Road Redevelopment Plan and Project Area to include the strip mall area.
Rosemont Plaza is also home to businesses such as the Donald E. Stephens Museum of Hummels, U.S. Post Office, Rosemont Chamber of Commerce, Subway and 7-Eleven.
Initial plans called for Moretti’s to open at the western edge of the center by last July 1, and at that time, Rosemont would provide the restaurant $500,000 to help pay for renovation costs. However, since the July 1 deadline was not met, the May 2016 agreement lowered the payment to $300,000.
The agreement signed last spring says the village will pay Ala Carte $100,000 when the restaurant opens, another $100,000 after the first year of operation, and the final $100,000 at the end of year two.
The village is a tenant within the shopping center, leasing the museum and chamber offices from Ala Carte.
Ala Carte runs several Moretti’s and other restaurants throughout the area. A couple of years ago, it opened Rosies Rivers Edge Tavern on the first floor of Rosemont Village Hall, 9501 W. Devon Ave. However, after a brief stay that restaurant closed. Gino’s East soon moved in and opened for business Aug. 1, 2016.