Board approves new Stefani restaurant on Kow Kow site
by SEAN KEENEHAN
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its meeting May 2 approved an ordinance granting special uses, zoning and signage variations to the Stefani Signature Restaurants group for the redevelopment of the former Kow Kow restaurant property at 6755 N. Cicero Ave.
The new 5,425-square-foot Stefani restaurant with an off-street parking area is expected to be open in the summer or early fall, according to owner Phil Stefani.
The property is a 31,817-square-foot corner lot with frontage facing Cicero and Pratt avenues and Stefani plans to redevelop and expand the building by demolishing the front two-thirds of the existing 4,390-foot building and keep the remaining rear third of the existing building that houses a kitchen on the east side of the property.
The restaurant will be built with a combination of materials that includes a significant amount of glass, stone, brick and masonry stucco.
The special uses allow construction of a restaurant larger than 5,000 square feet in the B-2 general business district, allow parking in the front yard setback area along Pratt and the corner yard setback along Cicero, and allow the establishment to operate within 150 feet of a residential neighborhood that is open later than 11 p.m. daily.
Village community development director Steve McNellis said at the April 18 board meeting that there are several restaurants in the village that are larger than 5,000 square feet that are adjacent to residential neighborhoods.
The zoning code variations of the ordinance will allow a reduction in the transition yard from the required 30 feet to the existing 10 feet along the eastern property line, allow a reduction of the required 55 parking spaces to the existing 51 spaces, and allow a 6-inch reduction for two parking aisles and a 6-inch reduction in parking spaces that are located in one parking aisle.
Other variations will allow a reduction from the required 8 feet to the existing 3 feet for an off-street parking perimeter landscaping area along Pratt, eliminate an off-street parking perimeter landscaping area along Cicero, allow a reduction in the required number of landscaped interior parking lot islands and allow a reduction in the required number of foundation landscaped areas and allow a reduction from the required 10 feet to the existing 5 feet in the landscape buffer along the southern and eastern property lines.
Stefani plans to construct an 8-foot masonry wall along the entire rear eastern property line and keep the existing "mature" evergreen trees located along the southern property line that separate the property from the adjacent townhomes.
The Stefani Group also plans to utilize the existing freestanding pole sign that is located on the northwest side of the property, and the ordinance will provide special sign variations that will allow the pole sign to remain.
The existing curb cuts located on Pratt and Cicero will provide access to the new restaurant, while an existing curb cut on Cicero that is located north on the property near the intersection with Pratt will be removed.
"In our opinion, it was dangerously close to the intersection and from a life-safety point-of-view and a traffic-safety point-of-view, we are looking at just two curb cuts," said Mark Knauer of Knauer Incorporated at the April 18 meeting. The architecture firm is designing the new restaurant.
Phil Stefani is a longtime Lincolnwood resident who opened his first restaurant, Stefani’s, in 1980 on Fullerton Avenue in Lincoln Park. Stefani expanded his business to a variety of restaurants and private event venues, a catering division and a retail line of pasta sauces and Italian specialty foods.
Stefani’s daughter Gina Stefani will run the new restaurant in Lincolnwood. While the name of the restaurant has yet to be decided, Stefani said that the business would serve Italian food along with steaks and seafood.
While the original Stefani’s restaurant closed in 2003, Stefani currently operates Tuscany locations in Chicago, Oak Brook, Wheeling and at O’Hare and Midway airports, Castaways Bar and Grill at North Avenue Beach, Tavern on Rush, Mad Social and Navy Pier locations that include Riva Crab House, the Miller Lite Beer Garden and the Crystal Gardens.
"One of the great opportunities here is that you have a world-class restaurateur living in your neighborhood," said Knauer.