LITTLE ITALY — Leona’s on Taylor Street has closed after more than three decades in Little Italy.
The restaurant at 1419 W. Taylor was one of several in the Chicago chain that had nearly a dozen locations at one point.
“Our lease became expensive, therefore we were looking for a new location,” a restaurant representative said in a Facebook message.
The message said Leona’s had signed a letter of intent to rent space a few blocks east on Taylor, but the deal fell through.
The restaurant is now searching for a place where it can reopen. They are also hoping to open two more locations.
“Currently, we are actively looking to replace the Taylor Street location in the general vicinity and to add two other locations closer to downtown,” the representative said.
The family that started the Leona’s chain sold nine of its 11 locations in 2013. Leon Toia, the grandson of the chain’s namesake, kept the original Leona’s that opened in 1950 at 3215 N. Sheffield Ave. in Lakeview.
The chain, under new ownership, now lists six locations on its website, including one in suburban Des Plaines and five in the city in Beverly, Hyde Park, Old Irving Park, Rogers Park and Calumet Heights.
Meanwhile, a prominent spot on Little Italy’s main thoroughfare, Taylor Street, is empty.
Baum Realty says in a listing that the building is 3,317 square feet and is available for sale or lease.
The first floor “contains entryway, bar area, two dining rooms, full kitchen and one set of men’s and women’s washrooms,” the listing says. The second floor “contains dining area, wait station and outdoor deck.”