One Wild and Savvy Guy

Appears in the March 2022 issue.

By Peter Gianopulos

Scott Harris can see the future, and it’s making him yawn. This year marks his 30th year as a restaurant impresario, so he expects every blogger to ask him the same question: “How did you go from go from opening a modest little Italian joint called Mia Francesca in 1992 to running a national restaurant empire?” The answer, he says, is scrawled into the rafters of his newest Naperville spot: Zade’s Lounge (see review, p. 44). Can’t miss it. Just look for the cursive hot-pink neon lights, which read: “Don’t Grow Up …  It’s a Trap.” “I think people like a little theater when they dine out,” says Harris. Look to his four Naperville spots as proof. At Fat Rosie’s, he stationed a cowboy-themed mannequin inside the women’s restroom. “You should see what some women do to that thing,” he says. “Pull his pants down. Leave lipstick kisses.” Note the smorgasbord of predinner Greek treats offered at Vasili’s. Or the secretive changes coming to Francesca’s later this year. But Zade’s might be the quirkiest of all: a karaoke bar/live-music venue that serves a bone-in beef rib sandwich called the T-Rex. “It’s really fun: Our waiters pull out the bone tableside.” Why so many Naperville spots? Because, Harris says, people from the western suburbs are his kind of people: “They’re sophisticated, but still know how to have a good time.” 

Photo courtesy Scott Harris Hospitality