(From Mike Beck of Cafe Lemont)
Interested parties are invited to Cafe Lemont on Tuesday, November 13 at 7 p.m. for a meeting to discuss possibilities for opening a new restaurant at the Alto Italian Restaurant building on Pike Street.
Ever since Alto Italian Restaurant closed its doors last year, a lot of people have been asking what might happen there next.
Being one of those people myself, I thought I might try to articulate some of the ideas that have been tossed around over a coffee over the past several months to see if there might be more people interested in seeing one of the great assets of the Lemont Village preserved in some fashion. As of this writing, I am unaware of any other plans to utilize that space that are currently in the works.
I guess I should start by clarifying that while I have been carrying a conceptual torch for this place, Jodi and I have our hands full with more than enough cafe business (roastery coming soon) and don’t plan to be directly involved in any project that may come about for the Alto location, though we’ll do what we can to help move things along and help folks get organized if possible.
I do, however, feel strongly that Lemont has an opportunity to preserve a restaurant with a liquor license within the historic village that if allowed to be sold off and dismantled, we are very unlikely to see one here ever again. If something is not done soon, the restaurant’s assets will likely be sold off and the continued enjoyment of this Lemont Village icon will vanish forever.
Restaurants have been successful there in the past and, given the right concept, one could be again.
The concept that I’ve distilled from the conversations I’ve had with many locals would probably require the purchase of the entire property, the details and prospects of which I do not currently know. I’ve been referring to it as “The Pike Street Public House,” a neighborhood pub that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner made from primarily locally-sourced ingredients, a basement bar and potentially even a craft brewery out back, featuring an enclosed patio that serves for three seasons of the year.
The menu might take inspiration from the success of Elk Creek Cafe in Millheim and aim for a price per plate that would encourage multiple weekly visits from neighborhood patrons. Elk Creek’s “group funding” approach might also be considered as a way to fund the endeavor. I believe the market for such a place exists not only within Lemont, but also in the greater area.
There are many facets of this project that would need to be fleshed out and could really use a champion to lead the cause and take this torch from my hands. There are a lot of talented people that I’m sure would love to see something like this get off the ground and jump on board, so spread the word. Any interested parties can email me. If enough people come together on this we will be happy to host a meeting at Café Lemont to discuss further actions.
Addendum: Since I originally penned the above article I have been in contact with the owner and while he has some interested buyers for equipment and the liquor license, he has agreed to hold the sale of all the assets until November 15 to see if we can make something happen, so tick-tock people, tick-tock!!!