September 30, 2014
Radio personality Kathy Hart and her husband, Billy Baruth, are buying the former Bertucci’s Italian Steakhouse in Highwood, where they plan to open a new eatery featuring Rustic-American cuisine and a separate venue for live music.
Hart is half of “The Eric and Kathy Show” on 101.9 WTMX-FM “The Mix’ radio.
Hart and Baruth, who wed in early 2013, were scheduled to close Friday on the purchase of the Highwood restaurant at 246 Green Bay Road.
Bertucci’s, which was owned by Bruce and Lynne Bertucci, closed its doors last fall after 23 years in business. Their restaurant seated 200 people and has parking for 60 cars.
Baruth and Hart presented their concept to the Highwood City Council on July 15. No target opening date has been announced.
“The restaurant will be a place that families and friends can come together to share both Hart and Baruth’s passion for unique and delicious food, exciting wines, craft beer, creative cocktails and inspiring entertainment, in a comfortable and relaxing way along with emotionally-connecting hospitality,” according to a written description of the couple’s plans.
The outline, which was provided to Highwood officials, said dishes will be prepared with farm-to-table ingredients from local sources who share the couple’s passion for planet-friendly practices.
“Our meats will be hormone and antibiotic free, our seafood sustainable and our produce organic whenever possible,” the description said.
The farm-to table theme will carry over to the cocktails, wine list and craft beers.
“Locally purchased fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables will be used in our cocktails whenever possible,” Hart and Baruth wrote in the statement. “The wine list and craft beer selections will be far from typical, focusing on renewably resourced wineries and breweries, both local and nationwide, who use grapes, hops and barleys harvested from sustainable vineyards and farms.”
According to the statement, the restaurant aspires to become a Highwood institution that endures, yet is constantly forward-looking, evolving and “reinventing for tomorrow.”
“Leveraging off a new, burgeoning trend of great restaurants paired with music venues, the restaurant will have a separate room from the dining area where live musical performances will take place primarily by nationally recognized musicians not typically accessible outside of the city of Chicago,” according to the description.
Hart and Baruth, who both grew up in Crystal Lake, were married at a log cabin in Montana in February, 2013. A feature in Sun-Times Media’s Splash magazine said the couple first met in 1995 when Hart’s brother dragged her to a Crystal Lake bowling alley and she spotted Baruth working behind the bar.
They remained friends for nearly 15 years. Their friendship turned romantic in 2010 when both had previous marriages behind them and were parenting four kids.