Former Va Pensiero chef/owner Jeff Muldrow
It's been exactly two weeks since Va Pensiero closed its doors for good, after 22 years in business. The closing came as a surprise to many, who thought the venerable Italian restaurant in a quiet Evanston neighborhood would be able to withstand the economic downturn. It had always been one of the places Northwestern students could count on, especially when their parents came to visit, providing a modicum of "fine dining" after countless nights of ramen and pizza. Ten years ago, Jeff Muldrow bought the business, after he had been the chef there the previous three years.
"The decision had been a long-time coming," said Muldrow. "I had been debating it for about a month. Our lease was up, our equipment was very old, so we knew a big investment had to be made. We weren't doing the numbers. I couldn't see taking out another big loan."
The closing affects about 30 people, all of whom Muldrow considers family. But over the past two weeks - as he sorts through the legal minutiae with the lawyers, Muldrow is embarking on a quest few of his colleagues with his level of experience are equipped to deal with: job hunting.