RACINE — A new restaurant, to be called Egg Plant Café & Catering, is planned for the north side to replace the former Bella Cibo restaurant.
Bella Cibo, 3751 Douglas Ave. in Clock Tower Place, closed Sept. 30 after four-plus years of operation. Co-owner Joanne Raffini said Wednesday that she and her husband, Jeff Raffini, have other business interests and had planned to turn the business over to their chef. When that didn’t work out, Aaron Morris bought most of the equipment and took over the lease Oct. 1.
Morris has a long history in restaurants, starting at the former Docks Waterfront Restaurant, 2 Christopher Columbus Causeway. He’s also done some construction, which he said is helpful in remodeling his new space: Morris is adding a bar, which he said will be more coffee bar than beer/wine bar.
Morris credits much of his chef training to when he cooked for chef Steve Matson at the former Waves Pub & Grill, 107 Fourth St. He was also the pastry chef at Scottsdale National Golf Club in Arizona.
Egg Plant Café will be mostly a breakfast-lunch restaurant but also will serve dinners on Fridays, Saturdays and possibly other nights, Morris said.
Morris described his approach to food as “thorough, passionate, and I’m always trying to evolve into the next thing.”
The name Egg Plant Café is based not on the vegetable but on eggs, which Morris said are one of his specialties. “Like an egg factory,” and like Panera Bread, where menu items are assembled in front of the customer.
“It will all be made fresh-to-order in a pan — not scooping out of a steam well,” he said.
“It’ll be really fresh — and American ‘fatboy’ dining classics,” Morris said about the food. “… We’ll have something for everyone.”
That will include several vegan dishes, because Morris said his sister is a vegan.
Filling a void
Because the north side lacks a Starbucks coffee shop, Morris said he will emphasize coffee drinks. He has yet to decide which company he will buy from.
Morris is ambitiously intending to create something that can be franchised. “I want to create a brand,” he said. “I want to create a system; I want to create a franchise.”
“I hope to be open seven days a week, but we’ll see what the market is,” he said.
Morris said he has his chef and crew lined up and hopes to be open by Jan. 1.