Sophie’s closes to make way for second Lemonis venture

Entrepreneur and CNBC television star Marcus Lemonis is bringing his latest on-screen business endeavor to Highland Park, replacing his first local restaurant, which closed in late January, according to Lemonis’ spokesperson.

Located at 478 Central Ave., The Simple Greek will serve Greek lunch and dinner offerings in a “fast casual” setting, said Karen Porter, director of Media Services for Marcus Lemonis LLC.

The restaurant chain was featured on the second season of “The Profit,” in which the Lake Forest resident buys an ownership stake in struggling small businesses and works to turn them around.

Lemonis originally opened Rose’s Cafe & Bakery at 478 Central Ave. in March 2014, as a second location of the Evanston-based gluten-free restaurant. He took over Rose’s in December 2012, when the struggling bakery could no longer afford to operate.

Late last year, Lemonis renamed the chain Sophie’s Great Food, in honor of his mother, Sophia Lemonis, who passed away in 2013 after an illness.

Sophie’s Great Food announced via Twitter on Jan. 27 that the restaurants were consolidating operations at the Evanston location, 2901 Central St.

Taking Sophie’s place in Highland Park, the Simple Greek is scheduled to open this March.

In a press release, Lemonis said he was “excited to be growing The Simple Greek into new areas in the United States.

“Coming from a Greek family, I am particularly excited to bring this dining experience to the wonderful community of Highland Park and give our customers reasonable prices and convenient access to great food,” he said.

Until The Simple Greek opens, Lemonis declined to comment further, according to Porter.

In the Dec. 9, 2014, episode of “The Profit,” he bought into the My Big Fat Greek Gyro chain in Pittsburgh and partnered with the husband-wife owners, who ran the stagnant restaurant chain for 10 years. Since then, the owners have became more hands-on with their Mediterranean franchise, rebranded the chain as The Simple Greek, renovated their locations and introduced an open assembly line model for gyros, salads and side dishes.

“We are thrilled to welcome The Simple Greek to Highland Park. Their convenient location and concept of fast casual authentic Mediterranean cuisine at reasonable prices is ideal for this area,” said Carolyn Hersch, business development coordinator with the City of Highland Park. “The city looks forward to this exciting opportunity to be the first of many locations [in Illinois] for The Simple Greek.”

The Simple Greek restaurant currently has franchises throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Marcus Lemonis is an entrepreneur, investor, television personality and chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises. Camping World is the nation’s largest RV and outdoor retailer, and Good Sam is the world’s largest RV owner’s organization.

Article sourced from http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/mundelein/news/ct-hpn-simple-greek-tl-0219-20150212-story.html