In 1973, Alex Dana, a 26 year-old Chicago native with rich Italian culture, purchased a Chicago Loop luncheonette. Piccadilly also called “333” after its physical address on west Washington Street did quite well. However, Piccadilly’s success wasn’t enough for young Dana. He had a much larger vision: a full-service restaurant offering great food, excellent service and warm hospitality from early in the morning to late at night. Coming from a family of restaurant owners it came as no surprise that a Chicago legend was in the making.
In 1977, a prospective property in line with Dana’s larger vision became available. Alex saw an opportunity to purchase a run-down building housing an Italian Men's' Supper Club, in an area we now know as Chicago's Little Italy. This is where “The Rosebud” was born.
Originally called Bocciola della Rosa (bud of the rose), after Sicily's native flower, the name was translated into English when patrons repeatedly struggled to pronounce the Italian name. Signature dishes, such as Chicken Vesuvio and Pappardelle (square noodles) became staples, and The Rosebud became a favorite of popular celebrities, including Robert DeNiro, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra (pictured top left), not to mention Carol Burnett, Jim Belushi (pictured top right), Robert Redford and Jimmy Buffett. Naturally, a gallery of autographed celebrity photos was created, and continues to grow to this day.
In 1992, Dana found an aging, yet beautiful building on Rush Street, just one block from the trendy Michigan Avenue, here was born: Rosebud on Rush. The restaurant was an instant hit among Chicagoans and visiting celebrities alike.
In 1994, Rosebud’s continued success allowed Alex a third location just five blocks up Rush Street: Carmine’s. This was the first departure from the use of the Rosebud name for a Dana restaurant. Offering two levels of dining, a bustling bar, live entertainment and an outdoor cafe for unrivaled people watching - Carmine's became an instant celebrity in its own right.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Dana sought expansion outside the city limits. Naperville, just 32 miles southwest of the city, became home to Rosebud’s first suburban location. Around the same time, Rosebud Theater District (FKA “La Rosetta”) opened in Chicago's financial and theater center.
Three years after opening in Naperville and Chicago’s Theater District, Alex was ready for his second departure from the city limits. In 2000, Rosebud of Highland Park opened with an emphasis on family, value and great food.
The new millennium also brought about a new concept for the Rosebud name. The Rosebud Steakhouse – A Rare Steakhouse, Well Done -- opened on Walton Street. Thus, the magic that is Rosebud continued. This time with tuxedoed waiters, a 28-ounce Chicago-Cut bone-in filet and "The Best Burger" in town, as voted on by Chicago Tribune readers.
A few years later, Dana was in the mood for something different. Combining a high end Italian restaurant with a fun loving lounge atmosphere, the corner of Dearborn and Illinois in Chicago’s trendy River North neighborhood became Rosebud Trattoria (FKA Ballo). Dana transformed the former 50's style diner into a sleek and sophisticated dining spot with a lounge like feel offering something for everyone.
After the success of eight restaurants, Dana had another idea. He wanted to offer diners the most beloved, best selling dishes from all of his locations together under one roof. He wanted customers to have the opportunity to enjoy sausage and peppers from The Rosebud on Taylor Street, Mama's Meatballs from Rosebud Trattoria and Linguine with Clams from Carmine's all on one menu. In May of 2007 the ideal setting presented itself and he opened Rosebud Old World Italian in the Northwest suburb of Schaumburg.
Not much time passed after opening his third suburban location, and Dana was back in the city impressing customers yet again. In July 2007 he opened Rosebud Prime, a lavish dining oasis amidst the finest entertainment venues and steps away from the heart of the loop. The second steakhouse under the Rosebud umbrella, Rosebud Prime combines impeccable service, a sophisticated atmosphere and the finest selection of steaks, seafood and chops.
In 2009, Dana decided to make a change to Rosebud of Naperville. In operation for over 10 years, it was time to make a transformation, and the restaurant became Rosebud Italian Specialties & Pizzeria. The new concept provided an updated perspective on Italian cuisine. The menu changed weekly, focused on regional dishes using fresh ingredients, thin crust, Chicago-style pizzas served from a traditional deck style oven became a popular hit. The ultimate goal at Rosebud Italian Specialties and Pizzeria is to provide customers with two distinct dining options: a more casual, family friendly pizzeria and an upscale, white table cloth dining room.
It's been an exciting journey for Alex Dana and Rosebud. Today, ten restaurants including two steakhouses, eight white table cloth Italian concepts and a robust private event and catering service are proudly under the Rosebud umbrella. Each restaurant fills a unique niche within the community and upholds the highest standards for fine cuisine and superior wine selections.