UPDATE: zoning sought for 1,200-seat church planned for Monastero’s site near Devon-Pulaski
by BRIAN NADIG
A 1,200-seat Romanian church with a community center is planned for the site of Monastero’s Ristorante & Banquets, 3935 W. Devon Ave., which is closing this fall after 55 years of business.
The restaurant, which was founded by siblings Gina, Joe and Salvy Monastero, initially opened in 1962 as La Canopy Pizzeria in the 3900 block of West Devon Avenue before renaming the business in 1967 and relocating to a larger space in the same block.
“It has been an honor for our family to be part of Chicago’s restaurant community. Three generations of Monastero’s have welcomed customers into our extended home and family.
“After being approached by a church and giving thoughtful consideration to the future, we wish to announce that our family has made the decision to sell our property to them and close Monastero’s Ristorante & Banquets on November 18th, 2017. It is a fitting legacy that the property on which we have shared our love of food and music for 55 years will be redeveloped into a church and religious community center,” family members said in a statement.
Joe Monastero, whose father was one of the restaurant’s founders, said that he appreciates the generations of customers who helped make the business a success. “We have a bride and groom who are getting married here this year, and the groom’s parents were married here 30 years ago,” he said.
“It is sad to see them go,” Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) said. “They are good neighbors and advocated for young people seeking a career in opera (through the Bel Canto Foundation). Monastero’s has been an integral part of the community for 55 years. It’s hard to imagine it without them.”
The Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, 4850 N. Bernard St., is seeking to rezone the property from B1-1 to B1-2 to allow for the construction of a 40-foot-tall sanctuary. Under the site’s existing zoning, the height of new construction would be limited to 38 feet.
A zoning application, which was introduced at the April 19 meeting of the City Council, states that 178 parking spaces would be provided. It is not clear if any of the site’s existing structures, including a banquet facility, would remain.
The establishment of a church and a community center on the nearly 2-acre site also requires the issuance of special use permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals.