Bowing to public demand, Sweet Caroline's Bar-N-Que in Hoffman Estates will be bidding a poignant adieu in mid-February to make way for a private party hall affiliated with the Moretti's Ristorante & Pizzeria next door.
"The customer base has spoken," said Mark Hoffmann, vice president of Schaumburg-based Ala Carte Entertainment, which owns both restaurants. "We're turning away so many private events at Moretti's. The Moretti's brand calls."
The two restaurants are part of a five-building dining campus near the southeast corner of Barrington and Higgins roads. A Steak 'n Shake remains the last original member from the late '90s.
After closing Sweet Caroline's on Feb. 11, Hoffmann said he hopes to have all the permits from the village and renovation work done to open a banquet hall he's tentatively referring to as "Moretti's Country Villa" by April 1.
"It'll add more of a service to the community," Hoffmann said, but not without a twinge of sadness. "I loved Sweet Caroline's. It was a great concept."
In fact, he plans to make the best-selling menu items at Sweet Caroline's part of a revised menu at that Moretti's location.
Hoffman Estates Economic Development Director Kevin Kramer said the village considered Sweet Caroline's to be doing well since it opened in November 2015, but he understands the business sense behind what Ala Carte Entertainment is planning.
"Even if it's doing well, maybe you can make more money some other way," Kramer said.
Ala Carte Entertainment also has held a neighboring building vacant since a T.G.I. Friday's closed there in 2015. Hoffmann said the change of concept at Sweet Caroline's may open up new opportunities at that building as well.
The restaurant campus also includes the former Romano's Macaroni Grill building, which closed last summer and is not owned by Ala Carte Entertainment.
Ala Carte owns many different restaurant concepts in the Chicago area, including The Snuggery, Finn McCool's and Drink nightclub in Schaumburg. But Hoffmann said there's something about the appeal of Moretti's, which has more locations than any of the others.
"It caters to all different people," he said. "The demographic is everyone."
Likewise, the new banquet hall will be designed in a style conducive to any event, Hoffmann said.