An Italian restaurant/off-track betting facility that's been in the works for several years is finally coming to Villa Park.
Ground was broken Monday on North Avenue for the 450-seat Salerno Pincente Ristorante and the players involved breathed a sigh of relief.
"I've been working on this thing for four years," Village President Tom Cullerton said.
Crews will start preparing the site for construction later this week or early next week, said Andrew Salerno, co-owner of the restaurant. The target date for opening is April 2011 about two years later than originally planned.
Village officials are hoping it will give a much-needed boost to redevelopment on North Avenue.
"It's a fantastic restaurant ... and hopefully, it's a sign of things to come," said Eric Dubrowski, interim village manager. "Everybody wins if North Avenue becomes a more desirable location."
The restaurant/OTB facility initially was going to be built on an outlot at North Park Mall. But by the time lengthy negotiations between the parties were completed, the economy had tanked and the property owner couldn't obtain financing, officials said.
A developer came forward with a new site on the south side of North Avenue, between Ardmore and Villa. The property has been vacant for years, except for a drive-through coffee kiosk, which can be picked up and relocated, said Shubhra Govind, director of community development.
The Salerno Pincente project includes a 10,500-square-foot family restaurant with banquet facilities and a 4,500-square-foot off-track betting facility for wagering at Arlington Park International Racecourse.
The family-owned restaurant will feature pizza, steak, chicken, fish and homemade pasta.
"I believe we are going to do very well there," Salerno said.