When Gianni's Cafe opened 15 years ago, the eatery was one of two restaurants in Kildeer.
The family-owned and operated Italian restaurant and Bacchus Nibbles, now in Lake Zurich, were the two places to eat in the small but growing town.
Crissy Siena, who founded the business with her husband, Mike, said as retailers and other restaurants began opening around them, they realized it was time to renovate and update the restaurant that has always had a European feel. After several months, the remodel is complete, Crissy said Thursday.
"It was important that we keep the original vibe and atmosphere at Gianni's that customers love," she said. "The coziness -- the feeling of knowing everyone there and being a part of a family that truly cares about them" was something the business owners wanted to keep.
The majority of the remodeling consisted of redesigning the main dining room and bar and updating the color and theme, the husband and wife team said. "We repainted the dining room in a cool, contemporary palate with a Venetian plaster backdrop" and Italian phrases and stenciled designs, Crissy said. The focal point of the dining room, a mural of Siena, Italy, the Piazza del Campo, has been a favorite for customers. An artist touched up the mural of the scene of the town where Siena's family is from.
In addition, the bar was remodeled and the kitchen has all new stainless steel equipment. All of the woodwork at the restaurant was stained in a dark walnut color and a large chandelier was added. The patio has also been updated.
"With new businesses and restaurants quickly opening all around us, we find it imperative to attract our current customers, while also trying to find new clients," Crissy said.
The family has updated their menu with additional house favorites and added more seafood specials. "On a daily basis we offer wild salmon, branzino, fresh East and West Coast oysters, calamari five ways, mussels and clams. We always feature a new fresh fish each week," Crissy said. She added that portions have remained large and still include a soup or salad.
Favorite menu items include the Country Rigatoni -- chicken, crumbled sausage and peas in a suprema sauce, and Gianni's Pescatore, where the sauce changes weekly. The dish features clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari sauteed in the sauce and served with pasta. "Every Friday we have new weekly chef-inspired specials at lunch and dinner."
The couple continues to operate its second location with the same name in downtown Palatine, which for the past decade has been able to accommodate larger groups and provide enough space for their Saturday and Sunday brunch.