Moderno, the modern Italian restaurant that opened in Renaissance Place in April, will close on Dec. 22 and reopen in January as a more casual restaurant serving American cuisine.
The chef-driven restaurant led by John des Rosiers received across the board critical acclaim earlier this year, getting rave reviews from Time Out Chicago, Chicago Magazine, The Sun-Times and here on Patch.
In his glowing review of Moderno, however, Patch columnist Ed Brill predicted what may have been an insurmountable obstacle for the restaurant: its limitations on the guests control over their order.
"The success or failure of [Moderno] will depend on whether or not Highland Park diners will accept a place without a Caesar salad or fried calamari, or if they are willing to eat the dishes as the kitchen envisions them," Brill wrote.
In a press release sent out Thursday afternoon, Renaissance Place General Manager Christiane Fischer said that the transition comes as a response to customers.
"Moderno was a truly great restaurant, but the owners listened to their customers and decided to change the concept to give them what they want, which is a more family focused, affordable dining experience," Fischer said.
The new restaurant, called Royce, will be have a 1930s Art Deco influence and will use fresh, locally grown organic and sustainable ingredients, according to the release. Des Rosiers and Executive Chef Phil Rubino are calling it a chef-driven casual restaurant, with a reasonably priced menu that will include signature and build-your own burgers and a children's menu.
"Residents are looking for a more approachable, casual experience," Business and Economic Development Commissioner Alyssa Knobel said. "They wanted to address those wants and needs, and be more family friendly."
Royce will also offer craft beers, small production wines and premium whiskeys and vodkas, according to the release.
This isn't the first time a restaurant has recreated itself to survive in Highland Park. closed last year and reopened as Nieto's, a more casual restaurant. And before Bobby Dubin closed Stashs' doors for good, he tried to turn his hot dog place into a more upscale bistro.
Des Rosiers and Fischer were unavailable for comment, but Bluegrass owner Jim Lederer told Patch he thinks it's necessary for any business owner to listen to your customers and have a willingness to change in order to survive. His restaurant has been open since 2004.
"It's change or be changed in today's business environment," Lederer said. "You can't be complacent."