A new breakfast and lunch restaurant is opening this week in Arlington Heights in place of Aurelio's Pizza, which closed in October.
Honey-Jam Cafe, at 2944 W. Euclid Ave. just west of Arlington International Racecourse, is promoting its grand opening this weekend after a soft opening that started Monday. It marks the first franchise location for the brand, which has corporate-owned locations in Downers Grove and Bolingbrook.
The Arlington Heights eatery will be open everyday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., serving omelettes, scramblers, skillets, French toast, pancakes and crepes, as well as burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads.
Kirk Mauriello, the chief operating officer, said the breakfast-and-lunch restaurant concept is a growing segment of the marketplace. And it's why the company has plans to open some 30 to 40 locations in the suburbs and city, as well as franchises as far south as Indianapolis.
Dick Portillo established Honey-Jam Cafe in 2010 before selling to Mauriello last year.
The Arlington Heights restaurant takes up the same 5,100 square feet of strip mall space as Aurelio's did, but has undergone a complete interior renovation. It features indoor seating for 190, a full liquor bar for Bloody Mary's, mimosas and more, and an outdoor patio for summertime dining.
George Vassos, the franchisee, said he and fellow investors decided to close their Aurelio's franchise after about two years because of slow business, especially during nighttime hours. The other investors are involved in the nearby One Arlington redevelopment, and originally thought Aurelio's would be a good addition to the area.
But as the mixed-use project has faced delays, Vassos and his business partners decided to change their focus to a restaurant that could draw daytime customers. He contacted Mauriello, who was chief operating officer for Aurelio's before Honey-Jam and originally brought Vassos into the Aurelio's brand.
"I always thought this was a great location, even when we decided to do Aurelio's here," said Vassos, who also owns the nearby Sam's of Arlington restaurant. "I just feel like the Honey-Jam concept is a better fit now."