ST. CHARLES – The former JC Sake sushi restaurant at 3843 E. Main St. on the city's east side is being converted into a modern European bistro and wine bar.
The owners of DRM Cafe and Deli in St. Charles plan to open Bella, which will be located near the Target store in St. Charles, by the end of the year. The couple lives in St. Charles.
"The concept is not just going to be Polish and German food," said Joanna Migo, who operates DRM Cafe and Deli with her husband, Dan Migo. "That's what we kind of specialize in here, the old-school style Chicago deli. But for Bella, it's going to be a little mix of everything. It will all have that European touch. If you think of DRM as like the cool brother from New York, Bella is like the sister that kind of jet sets to Europe and lives in Paris and goes to Spain and Greece on the weekend. It's a little bit of each country kind of dressed up."
Joanna Migo said she knows opening a new restaurant during a pandemic is risky. But the couple is deciding to take that chance.
"At DRM, we were able to kind of weather the storm," she said. "We know what has worked here at DRM to keep us open and do pretty well during a pandemic."
Opening Bella also will give the couple a much needed bigger kitchen, which serves not just DRM, but a second restaurant as well. Earlier this year, the couple started Los aMigos Taqueria.
The food for Los aMigos Taqueria is prepared in DRM's kitchen.
"It's still us and it's the same chef, but we just expanded our menu," she said. "Our staff basically is frying up pierogies in one hand and cooking enchiladas in the other hand. And it's all coming out of the same kitchen."
Joanna Migo emphasized the need for a larger kitchen.
"We have a really, really tiny kitchen here," Joanna Migo said. "My house kitchen is bigger than our kitchen here. … I think we were more scared if we didn't take this opportunity. The idea kind of stemmed from there. The new restaurant will be a new concept and have a bigger kitchen to produce more. We just thought if we didn't take this opportunity, it may never come again for us."
Their customers like the variety of food being offered.
"You can get a little something of everything," she said. "People just trusted us with what we did with the European food and it just kind of crossed over into the Mexican cuisine."
Bella, which is related to the Italian, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese and Latin words for beautiful, is named after her daughter, Isabella. Joanna Migo is both Mexican and Italian.
"It's going to be a beautiful restaurant with beautiful food," she said.
DRM bears her husband's initials. He was born in Poland.
Bella will be open for brunch and dinner. Brunch items will include crepes, potato pancakes, apple pancakes, omelets, challah French toast, shakshuka and croquet madame.
Lobster and crab rolls, gourmet burgers and sliders, including filet, pastrami, corned beef brisket and schnitzel, also will be on the menu along with homemade rotating soups. Bella will feature plates for sharing, such as cheese and chocolate fondue, European charcuterie plates, zapiekanka, tartines, gourmet pizzas and Spanish-style tapas.
The dinner menu will include seafood entrees like seafood stews, steaks, chops and traditional Polish, German, Spanish, Italian and American favorites. Bella will have an extensive dessert menu, including flan, tortes, cakes, German strudel, and cannoli, as well as a full service bar.
Bella also will house a European wine and spirits gift shop. The restaurant will have both indoor and outdoor dining, and will offer takeout service and catering.
In wanting to keep customers safe during the pandemic, the restaurant will feature such things as sliding doors and touchless fixtures.
"We're definitely keeping all that in mind," Joanna Migo said.