After 20 years in business, Oliveti's Italian Ristorante, 1575 Ellinwood Street, has closed its doors for good.
The business appeared to fall on hard times during the recession in the last several years, and the building has been listed for sale for two years. In addition, new Italian restaurants have opened and increased competition in the area.
Oliveti's was named after a suburb of Salerno, Italy, where former owner Anthony Ferrazzullo was born. It began as a small cafe in Arlington Heights specializing in Northern Italian cuisine, and moved to downtown Des Plaines at the end of 1991.
Over the years, the homey restaurant expanded to cover all Italian cuisine, catering and specialty foods, and opened an adjacent bar-lounge, called Chiava, Khiava and, later, Mia.
Oliveti’s neighbors on Ellinwood Street have changed drastically in the last decade, as most of the block has been demolished or redeveloped. Kinder Hardware and Tin Lizzie closed, were demolished and replaced by a bank branch.
Sim's Bowl, The Depot restaurant and a drycleaners closed and were demolished last year. The Oliveti building is practically the only old building remaining on the block, and the oldest on all of Ellinwood Street — an island in a strip now prime for redevelopment.
Among first developed blocks
This block of Ellinwood was one of the first business blocks to develop in Des Plaines. In 1905, it could still be mistaken for a scene in an Old West film: a small house stood on the site of this building, and across the street was a turntable used to rotate locomotives for inbound commuter trains.
In total, the block featured seven houses, two saloons, the Lagerhausen lumberyard spread across two locations, a stable, an icehouse, a tiny slaughterhouse, a blacksmith's shop, a wagon shop, a tin shop and several other stores.
Prior to Oliveti, the building was home to the O. H. Bambas Tobacco Company, a distributor of cigars and other tobacco products.
Details are difficult to locate, but the building was built prior to 1924, and the tobacco company was sold to James F. and Olga H. Bambas in 1929.
The tobacco company was later operated by their daughter Virginia and her husband Anton Tomasek, who also operated Tomasek Motors, a Studebaker dealership, from 1954-1957. That building, just a few doors west, is now home to Hanlin Management.