Aglio Ristorante plans move to Speakeasy location in downtown Janesville

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Jim Leute
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

JANESVILLE—Large parties turned away.

Forty-five-minute waits for a table.

Both should be a thing of the past when Aglio Ristorante opens in May in the downtown space that previously was the home of the Speakeasy.

Aglio plans to move from its Main Street address to the Speakeasy, which Anita Karl opened 10 years ago after extensive renovations to the former Bennison & Lane building at 19 N. High St.

John Sheck and Amy Johnson own Aglio, which opened last summer.

“We're very excited about the move,” Sheck said. “Janesville has been so good to us, and it just got to the point that it was uncomfortable turning people away or making them wait on weekends.”

Aglio will move from a space that seats 60 to one capable of seating close to 200.

That's a bit overwhelming, said Sheck, adding that both owners and their chef have decades of restaurant experience that makes the task less daunting.

Sheck hired five new staff members Tuesday and had more interviews scheduled Wednesday.

“We will train everyone (at the Main Street restaurant),” he said. “They have to be trained. We're an established restaurant.”

When it opens in the new location in May, Aglio will only open for happy hours on the deck and dinner service. Lunch hours will resume in June, which will allow for a smooth transition, Sheck said

The restaurant's décor will not entirely change, he said.

“We're just going to add our touch and our colors, which is a little more low-key than the Speakeasy,” he said.

Sheck said the restaurant's happy hour on the deck would feature a raw bar and live entertainment.

“We're not changing Aglio,” he said. “It will be the same food and the same service.

“We're just getting bigger because we outgrew our little space. This will give us more options because we were turning down large parties left and right.”

Karl said Aglio would assume the Speakeasy's banquet commitments.

She said she looks back on her decade-long ownership of the Speakeasy with pride, having created a destination restaurant in downtown Janesville.

“I've always been a student of curiosity,” she said. “I wanted to do it, and I did it.

“I was quite naïve, but I did it.”

Karl said the time was right to transition out of the restaurant business. Her children have grown up not seeing her in any other setting than a restaurant.

“It's time to focus on my family,” she said. “I'm really confident that Aglio will do really well.

“I created the space, and they know how to run a restaurant. That's a good combination, and I wish them well.”

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