When Francesca’s by the River in downtown St. Charles reopens in mid-July, it will have a new look and a new name.
The restaurant’s new name is Francesca’s Mio Modo. Mio Modo is an Italian phrase that means “my way.”
Francesca’s Mio Modo, 200 S. Second St., is part of the Scott Harris Hospitality group. Hobert Whitworth, director of operations for Scott Harris Hospitality, said the remodeling project is a direct reflection of a new direction for the company.
Harris’ first restaurant opened in 1992 in Chicago.
“We changed the name of our company to Scott Harris Hospitality to reflect where Scott wants to go next,” Whitworth said. “We just had our 30-year anniversary in February. Obviously we’ve been around a long time in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Scott wants us to see where we can go in the next 30 years. Francesca’s Mio Modo is Scott’s reimagining of our restaurants. It’s going to be him doing it again with all the knowledge and experience that he has.”
The company previously had been called Francesca’s Restaurant Group.
Hector Lopez, general manager of Francesca’s Mio Modo, said the restaurant is blessed to have a large number of regular customers.
“We kind of developed a family here,” Lopez said. “We’ve been keeping them updated. All our customers are very excited.”
Customers will notice many differences when the restaurant reopens.
“Basically it’s a whole rehab,” Lopez said. “It is an older building, so obviously it needed it. We’re going to have a double-sided fireplace instead of just one fireplace that we had previously.”
The restaurant will sport new tables and new lighting fixtures.
“It’s going to be like being transported to Italy,” Whitworth said. “It’s going to be beautiful. It’s our most exciting project to date, from the plateware to the glassware to the type of brick that we’re using. It’s going to be pretty. And we think that the city will be proud.”
Before reopening, Francesca’s Mio Modo is looking to hire a few more employees.
“We’re always looking for great people to add to our team,” Lopez said.
Whitworth said many of the employees who previously worked at the restaurant are returning, but some have moved on. He estimated the restaurant needs to hire about 20 to 30 employees.
“This is going to be an exciting thing in downtown St. Charles and people in hospitality want to be where the excitement is,” he said.
The restaurant’s menu also will be changing.
“We’re going to keep some old favorites, obviously the staples that people in St. Charles have come to know and love,” Whitworth said. “But Scott and the chef team are going to do some different things. We’re going to get more on trend with what’s going on in the food industry right now – smaller plates, more vegetables and healthier options. We’re going to kind of stretch our limits and try things that we might not have tried in the past.”
Part of the reason the restaurant is going in that direction is because of customer feedback, he said.
Francesca’s Mio Modo also plans to start offering brunch.
“When we’ve done brunch buffets for Mother’s Day, we’ve always done well and people ask us if we are ever going to do a brunch,” Lopez said. “So we’re listening to our customers. And it’s a beautiful menu, too. We’re excited for that.”