An idea to replace the current Pompei restaurant with a four-story building containing apartments and a smaller restaurant is off the table, owner Ralph Davino said.
“I would like to let my people know I am not going anywhere,” Davino said. Plans to close Pompei temporarily at its location at 1531 W. Taylor while building a new structure fell apart, he said, noting developers were two months late in “showing the money,” so the deal is off.
Two other restaurants on Taylor Street closed in June, Francesca’s and Davanti Enoteca, but Davino stressed that Pompei will not join them. “I do not want anyone to think I am gone,” he said.
Pompei, in its yellow brick building with the red-roofed dome, remained open for carry-outs during the heaviest of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and reopened and expanded its outdoor seating when the City allowed.
With outdoor dining permitted, business improved “minimally,” to “half of what I used to do,” Davino said. Pompei requires staff to wear masks and gloves, use hand sanitizer, and have their temperatures taken daily.
Because of the pandemic, Davino had to cut his workforce of 60 in half. Some of those employees have worked at Pompei for 25 years. His bank’s “forgiveness” of regular payments on a loan helped greatly, as did Federal aid, he said. Further staff cuts would be necessary, however, if he did not receive additional government help, Davino added.
The canceled plan would have brought 50 apartments to a 48-foot high building, with a smaller restaurant on the ground floor. Davino said the plan’s demise, “does not mean I am not still trying to do better for my family.”
To contact Pompei, call (312) 421-5179 or log on to www.pompeiusa.com/.
—Susan S. Stevens