From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier August 3, 2017
Tess was a tough critic. Every week, she would ask her fiancée Angelo to make her a pizza. She longed for the perfect sauce and the right amount of spice, so she instructed him to add more oregano or salt, or whatever she thought was missing. Angelo wanted to please his soon-to-be-bride, and because he likes a challenge, he agreed to change the ingredients every time, until Tess’s was craving was satisfied.
I spoke with the new owner, 28-year-old Angelo Zayed, recently about his new venture, Brama La Pizza
, and about his determination to create an environment where kids and families will make his restaurant the place to go.
Angelo told me that he’s laser-focused on capturing the young audience’s allegiance, because they are the future, and they will drive the engine of his business model. For $5, customers get a slice of pizza and a soda. Most parents that I know around town won’t let their children have unlimited sodas, but Brama does and that will also keep them coming back for more.
I have to admit that I was a little shocked when I first heard that Brama La Pizza would not serve beer. It seemed as though the new owner had made a fatal error, similar to the previous restaurant like painting the walls a hideous orange color. It would be hard to make a living just selling food without the high mark-up of alcohol, and somewhat unthinkable that adults would come in without the suds. But Angelo‘s positive attitude is contagious, and he believes that beer would change the dynamics of the crowd, and would lose the attention of his target audience. He is very believable, too, especially when you see tables full of kids, and some with the parents in tow.
The running joke around town was that “Medalla” was going to save The Hills Restaurant (or Mario’s). The former owners put Medalla signs in every window, but it became apparent that nothing was going to save it. But that was then.
Tess has good design taste too. Not only did she help Angelo perfect his pizza, she did a great job changing the decor. They left nothing to chance to look anything like its predecessor. The upbeat decor is hip, fresh and clean. And if there was such an award, it would win that of the most illuminated business in town. There are high tables and low tables, and did I say there is plenty of lighting?
Before I ever tasted the pizza, I told someone that if the pizza was as tight as the owner’s hair and beard, it had to be great. I couldn’t help but ask him where he got it cut.
Angelo employs about 18 people, 16 of which live here in Clarendon Hills. His philosophy is to have spot-on service, because he knows it’s about the experience for his customers. You can often see, along with the owner, an army of workers constantly cleaning everywhere, including the windows, front door and sidewalk. It’s refreshing to watch someone work so hard at making a good business for themselves and for us.
Before Brama La Pizza, the space had a few previous occupants The Hills Café, Mario’s, Hills Café (without the the) and for about two days, it was called Lindeman’s; but that didn’t last long, because the owner received a cease-and-desist letter, apparently from the Lindeman’s chili family. Prior to restaurants, it was occupied by The Ceramic Attic, a pharmacy and The Bank of Clarendon Hills (which got robbed at one point). The old bank safe is in the basement, and is now used as a freezer.
And now a new chapter unfolds. Angelo not only started a new business in town, he made a power play and bought the building, leaving nothing to chance. There is no doubt this business is going to be around for a long time.
In October, Tess and Angelo will tie the knot and get married. I can almost imagine what it was like for the banquet hall chef interviewing for the job, and how many times they had to make their refinements. Being a tough critic, Tess always gets her craving satisfied.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills
resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history
. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at here
630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com