Two brothers are rolling up their sleeves and will be back in the kitchen together by spring.
David and Zachary Lucchese, formerly of Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant in Elkhart, announced their plans for a new restaurant — Bacon Hill Kitchen and Pub, 4000 E. Bristol St., Elkhart.
Over two years ago, Zachary left his family’s restaurant to pursue other projects, according to previous reporting from The Elkhart Truth. But his involvement with his family’s business predates that.
- RELATED: Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant’s Zach Lucchese leaves the business, Nov. 14, 2012
“My grandparents have owned the restaurant for 33 or 34 years,” Zachary told Flavor 574. “I grew up in their restaurant, running around the kitchen when I was 8 or 9 years old and I started cooking there when I was 13.”
When he left his family’s restaurant a few years ago, he went to the kitchen at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind., to improve its food and beverage program and help make it more profitable, he said. When he accomplished his goals of improving the program, he said he started thinking about what was next.
“We all spent our time growing up eating cheeseburgers and having fountain drinks at the counter and buying baseball cards.”
“It’s very bittersweet for me to leave,” he said. “The family that owns Swan Lake has become family to me and my fiancé, which makes leaving bittersweet.”
But the pull of nostalgia is what is bringing the brothers back together in the kitchen for this next project.
Bacon Hill Kitchen and Pub will move into the former Firehouse Kitchen, which closed in 2013 after 28 years in business.
“We started talking about opening a restaurant in that area last fall,” Zach said. “Firehouse was probably the only restaurant out that direction for a while. This area has really developed. We all have fond memories of riding our bikes to the pharmacies out there. We all spent our time growing up eating cheeseburgers and having fountain drinks at the counter and buying baseball cards.”
For David, there wasn’t a question about who to work with.
“The best part about going into business with your brother is just that, he is my brother, one of my best friends,” David said in an email. “We understand a lot about each other and the way each other works without having to verbalize it.”
- RELATED: The Firehouse closes after 28 years, March 3, 2013
Like Zachary, David also grew up in his family’s restaurant — not only did they learn cooking skills at a young age, the brothers learned the importance of family ties and hospitality.
“I remember watching my Gammy interact with the customers,” David said. “Whether she was meeting them first time or the hundredth time, as an onlooker, you’d have thought she’d known them her whole life. Those interactions alone outline exactly what we want to achieve in our venture. Come as strangers, leave as friends, it’s all we know.”
Bacon Hill Kitchen and Pub will serve what Zachary described as “coastal southern” food — seafood and shrimp but with Midwest dishes like steak, burgers, chicken and waffles and more.
After all, the brothers and their sister were born in Athens, Ga., and visited relatives in Florida when they were younger.
“People know us for Italian food, but southern food as always been an influence in our lives,” Zachary said.
Southern fare isn’t just about the seafood, though — it’s just as much about the hospitality, David said.
“Being from the South is part of our culture, just as being Italian is part of our culture,” he said. “We really want to be able to share that with people, to the point where when you come in you know you’re going to get great service with food you don’t typically see in this area.”
The restaurant is set to open in early May 2015, Zachary said, with some minor remodeling planned, including opening up the patio to families with children. He said the restaurant will also work with the state so it can serve craft beers, drinks and cocktails.
“We want to make it more accessible,” Zachary said. “We want this to be a neighborhood place where everyone feels welcome. We are happy to be back in Elkhart and cooking for everyone, we’re really excited.”
For the first two weeks, the restaurant will open with dinner and make adjustments as needed.
After that, Zachary said it will open for lunch and will offer weekend brunches, though all of those hours will be smoothed out as the opening date draws closer.