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Highland Park restaurant Bella Via to close on Feb. 18, Astra Coffee remains closed for repairs

Customers of Bella Via will mangia for the ultimate time on the Highland Park restaurant on Feb. 18.

The 26-year-old Italian restaurant is closing amid difficult times, in accordance with General Manager Carmela LaValle.

LaValle said that following the peak of the pandemic and the Highland Park shooting in 2022, Bella Via’s constructing modified ownership and the 2 sides couldn’t work out a deal for Bella Via to stay at 1899 Second Street in downtown Highland Park.

“We’ve been a component of the community for a very very long time,” said LaValle, who has worked at Bella Via for 22 years. “It’s really sad.”

Chef Maurizio Lobosco opened Bella Via and stays the restaurant’s owner. LaValle began working at Bella Via as a hostess when she was a sophomore at Highland Park High School.

She said she’s all the time appreciated the restaurant’s community focus and its customers’ loyalty.

“It’s been an incredible restaurant for 26 years and it’s been consistent,” she said. “We now have a really loyal following and are truly a part of the community. I actually have loads of great memories with our customers and I’m joyful for that.”

LaValle also mentioned she had mixed feelings when seeing that a latest Italian restaurant, DeNucci’s, was coming to the identical block with help from a $1.5 million grant from the City of Highland Park.

She said she believes the restaurant can have a positive impact on her hometown, Highland Park, but she couldn’t help but wonder if there might be more opportunities to assist current businesses.

City Manager Ghida Neukirch said town’s development department is involved with Bella Via with the hopes of identifying a brand new Highland Park location for the restaurant.

Highland Park’s relatively latest “boutique incentive” is supposed to attract attractive restaurants to town, and Neukirch said its goal is to spice up local commerce through employment, increased foot traffic and direct sales. She said town recently expanded its exterior improvement grant program that helps existing businesses improve their spaces.

“Bella Via is a cherished, loved restaurant locally and we’ve got been working diligently to assist them retain their business in Highland Park,” Neukirch said in an email. “When Bella Via finds a brand new space, the City will have the ability to help them in bettering the brand new space as a part of our incentives for existing businesses.”

Astra also closed — for now

Astra Coffee Roasters

It just isn’t clear how long one other Highland Park establishment will likely be closed.

Astra Coffee Roasters, 477 Roger Williams Ave., abruptly closed in late January with brown paper covering the windows. An indication on its doors says the closure is temporary “while we complete maintenance and updates to our shop.”

The sign has no indication of a reopening date, and there is no such thing as a mention of the closure or any more information on Astra’s social media channels (Facebook, Instagram).

The Record’s attempts to succeed in the cafe have been unsuccessful.

With uniquely sourced coffees, Astra opened within the Ravinia district in 2022.

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