LOGAN SQUARE — Neighborhood favorite Buona Terra Ristorante is leaving its California Avenue home of more than two decades.
Buona Terra, 2535 N. California Ave., will close next month after 21 years, husband-and-wife owners Eileen Gregg Garcia and Jose “Chepe” Garcia said Monday. The owners are folding the Italian restaurant into their Irving Park spot Hearth & Crust, 3608 W. Irving Park Road.
The consolidated restaurant will be called Buona Terra and serve the “greatest hits” from both eateries, including Buona Terra’s neighborhood-famous rigatoni dish, Gregg Garcia said.
“Buona Terra has been an amazing part of our lives. We know we’ve touched a lot of lives in Logan Square with our food, but we knew that it was time to make the change,” Gregg Garcia said.
Gregg Garcia said the couple’s long-term plan has been to merge the two restaurants since opening Hearth & Crust in 2017. The pandemic sped up their timeline, she said.
Buona Terra survived the COVID-19 shutdown thanks to loyal customers who placed regular orders and bought gift certificates to keep the small business going, but the restaurant struggled with staffing shortages, Gregg Garcia said.
“It’s been hard to find staff to relieve our employees. Our employees stuck with us all through the pandemic. They were loyal, they ran the ship. When it came time for them to take a break and have vacations, we’d have to close the restaurant entirely. … It became apparent that wasn’t the most cost-effective way to run a restaurant,” Gregg Garcia said.
Buona Terra will serve its final Logan Square customers March 18. The owners plan to reopen Hearth & Crust as Buona Terra by April 1.
Gregg Garcia and her husband, a chef, opened Buona Terra on California Avenue in 2002, several years before the neighborhood gentrified and became a dining hot spot.
“When we opened our restaurant, people in the industry told us, ‘What are you going there for? West of Western [Avenue] — that’s crazy. What would you want to do that for?'” Gregg Garcia said.
Serving a menu of comforting northern Italian dishes in a cozy dining room, Buona Terra became a quintessential neighborhood restaurant frequented by families.
The eatery serves everything from classic pasta dishes such as pappardelle bolognese to bistecca alla crosta di parmigiano, a parmesan-crusted grilled Black Angus steak with roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables.
Gregg Garcia said she and her husband are immensely grateful for Logan Square neighbors and their unwavering support over the years, and they hope loyal patrons will follow them to Irving Park, where they plan to carry on Buona Terra’s legacy in name and in spirit.
The new Buona Terra will also serve Hearth & Crust favorites, such as brick-oven pizza.
“It didn’t make sense to close Buona Terra. We didn’t want to make it so final when we still have things we want to do,” Gregg Garcia said.
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