By Hinsdale Magazine Group Staff| Photo by Laura Meyers

In an exciting move that promises to elevate the culinary scene, Rich Labriola, the visionary behind Labriola Café and LaBarra, is merging his eateries to create a new, enhanced Labriola experience. Facing an expiring lease on his Labriola Bakery Café, located next to his LaBarra Ristorante at 3021 Butterfield Road in Oak Brook, Labriola saw an opportunity to enhance his dining offerings for his loyal patrons.

Maintaining a high-quality, fast-casual experience like Labriola became increasingly difficult in an industry challenged by inflation and fluctuating customer counts. With wages rising and a shift in workplace dynamics post-Covid, Labriola recognized the need for innovation to sustain profitability.

He decided to merge the most beloved dishes and beverages from both establishments. “It’s the same food you’d find (at Labriola’s) all week. People came for the food. Now, it’s a very convenient place to be.” Labriola said, “LaBarra wasn’t open for lunch, and Labriola’s strong point was lunch. So, we decided that merging the two and making a new Labriola was the way to go.”

The new Labriola will proudly bear the same logo and branding as the Michigan Avenue location in Chicago and the west-suburban Oak Brook; a testament to their unwavering commitment to the quality patrons have come to love. The menu will feature LaBarra classics alongside exciting new additions to tantalize the taste buds.

“I am drawn to restaurants because I love the creativity part.…you feed people and they are happy.
There’s no other feeling like that.”

Rich Labriola

Now, with everything on one menu, the choices are plentiful. You can opt for classics like the iconic filet sliders – three petite filets with Maître D’ Butter, nestled within mini-pretzel buns. Or perhaps indulge in the French Dip, featuring thinly sliced roast beef in au jus, with toasted hoagie rolls.

Richie Burger

For those craving a hearty burger experience, there’s The Richie Burger: Black Angus beef, hand-formed patties with aged White Cheddar Cheese, lettuce, and tomato, all on a pretzel bun, served alongside a generous portion of hand-cut fries.

The gourmet pizzas and pasta dishes from LaBarra’s menu are also available, which ensures that there’s something to delight every palate. “We’re creating some newer special sandwiches that are really a wow factor. You can buy Chicken Parm on any corner, we are going to elevate it,” Labriola shared. Of course, Labriola’s renowned bread will continue to be a cornerstone.

According to Labriola, “If you love the food there (Labriola), it’s the same food that will be here. It’s not changing, the experience is changing. If you don’t want to have a full-service, the carry-out is just the same.”

People can get in and out quickly for lunch and still have the same great experience that will make them return. Labriola said, “It’s not turning into fine dining; it’s just turning into full-service. It’s still casual dining; you’ll just have a server now.”

Moving the new Labriola into what was previously LaBarra offers a more relaxed, full-service dining experience for lunch and dinner. “Turning the LaBarra space into a larger Labriola space with a patio also gives my patrons more room to host corporate events, engagement parties, banquets, and family gatherings,” Labriola said.

The expansive LaBarra space with a large patio will allow Labriola to host more corporate events, engagement parties, and family gatherings. This past Mother’s Day, Labriola welcomed guests to a special brunch, debuting the patio and offering a memorable experience for moms.

While change can be daunting, Labriola assures fans that the food – the heart and soul of any restaurant – remains the priority. By merging with LaBarra, Labriola is not downgrading but elevating. The new concept will appeal to loyalists and attract a new lunch crowd seeking a full-service experience.

When asked what it is about that restaurant business that makes him successful, he said, “I love the creativity part. The operations part is not that fun for me, but the creativity. You know, you feed people, and they are happy. There’s no other feeling like that. It’s a nice business, it’s an exciting business.”

As Labriola reflects on his journey, from distributing bread out of his car to building a popular brand for thirteen years, to owning Stan’s Donuts, one thing remains constant – a passion for feeding people and bringing them joy. The new Labriola promises to continue that mission, offering a refined yet approachable dining experience. n



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