Toscana in Arlington Heights plans banquet expansion into former Sam's space

  • Toscana restaurant has proposed an expansion into the shuttered Sam's of Arlington next door on Central Road in Arlington Heights, with plans for a medium-sized banquet hall.

    Toscana restaurant has proposed an expansion into the shuttered Sam's of Arlington next door on Central Road in Arlington Heights, with plans for a medium-sized banquet hall. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/8/2021 5:47 PM

The closure of one longtime Arlington Heights restaurant has presented the opportunity for another to expand into a new banquet business.

Toscana, which has been serving up Italian dishes for the last dozen years from the Central/Wilke Shopping Center, plans to occupy most of the former 3,438-square-foot Sam's of Arlington space next door. There, Toscana owner Murat Murati plans to run a medium-sized banquet hall that would cater to locals' special events and special days, and corporate and nonprofit clients' luncheons and dinners.

 

When Sam's closed after 34 years last November, social services provider Clearbrook -- landlord of half of the shopping center -- offered the extra space to Toscana. The village-owned Arlington Heights Senior Center is in the other half of the strip mall.

"An opportunity came up," Murati told village trustees this week when they approved a special use permit for his banquet expansion project. "(With) the request from our clients for private banquet events, we decided to build a mini-banquet hall."

The hall would be operated under a separate name and liquor license, though it would share the Toscana kitchen. Murati said he plans to offer various types of cuisine -- including Italian, American and French -- at high and low price points, depending on customers' budgets. Events could be as small as a party for 30 or as large as 145.

Clearbrook will gut the interior of the old Sam's before Murati's team starts from scratch on the new banquet hall, which will include new bathrooms, a service bar, coatroom and connection to Toscana. He's currently working with a local architect on the new interior design.

The build out could take up to five months, but Murati hopes to start booking parties as soon as the winter holidays. He'd still have to return to the village board for a liquor license.

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