It turns out a warm winter couldn’t keep Milano’s down for long.
The popular Italian restaurant, which closed in mid-February, is scheduled to reopen under new management Sunday, March 15. Sam Hassan, owner of the Maple Falls Café, will lead the reopening, but he said the goal is to bring back the Milano’s style that founders Tom and Jeannie DeBari had for 25 years.
“I’m just running the show for Tom and Jeannie,” Hassan said, noting that he won’t make changes to the original menu and is planning to hire some of the original employees. “This is not Sam’s Milano’s, it will be about bringing back what they did.”
Dave Reera shut down Milano’s last month, citing in a Facebook post the poor snow season as a factor for the closure. A former employee, Reera took over ownership in August from the DeBaris. When Hassan heard about the closure, he decided to take action and signed a lease.
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“We couldn’t afford to lose Milano’s,” he said, noting the recent closures of a few other businesses in the area and adding that Milano’s was a landmark that helped support other businesses.
His goal is to not only bring back the original menu to 9990 Mount Baker Highway, but the atmosphere as well. The restaurant was known for its fine dining and for attracting a wide range of people, from those dressing up for a date night to hikers coming in from the woods hoping for a hearty meal.
“We want to be very welcoming to anyone looking for a good meal at both Milano’s and the (Maple Falls) café,” Hassan said.
With the relatively quick reopening, Hassan is making some adjustments. He probably won’t have a liquor license approved in time for the opening, so he’s encouraging customers to bring in wine and pay a $10 corkage fee until the license is approved.
He hasn’t settled on hours yet but plans on Milano’s being open every day of the week except Tuesday. He’s also working on the idea of offering breakfast on the weekend.
Another change he plans is putting in what he considers a classic Italian bar. That includes bringing in his old glass collection from previous restaurants he’s operated. Hassan has operated several Seattle area eateries, including the Rio Brazilian Grill and the Paratii Craft Bar in Ballard. He’s also had restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and London.
Hassan also has been talking to Tom DeBari about occasionally coming in to Milano’s, possibly as a guest chef. He’s also helping Jeannie DeBari launch a Milano’s cookbook.
With the lack of snow this winter, foothills businesses have been suffering because of fewer skiers. Hassan said it was a tough season for the Maple Falls Café, but it was able to survive. Not only survive, but he recently made additions to the cafe, including a breakfast menu and a Pizza Lovers Paradise event on Wednesdays.
Hassan is still working on getting a phone re-established at Milano’s. Until then, those with questions about Milano’s can call the Maple Falls Café at 360-599-1800.