Twenty years ago, Chef Scott Harris co-founded Francesca’s Restaurants. He has established himself as one of Chicago’s most iconic restaurateurs and the company continues to grow, winning fans and accolades across the country. Harris has earned a stellar reputation as a chef, business leader, developer of talented people and a generous contributor to his com- munity. With the launch of Glazed and Infused, he brings his talents and passion to the world of artisan doughnuts.
Harris discovered his love of the culinary arts in high school while working at Fox’s Pub on the South Side of Chicago. He attended Joliet Jr. Culinary School and spent the next 15 years training at prestigious restaurants around Chicago. When he discovered the joys of authentic Italian cuisine, with its delicious, fresh ingredients and straightforward approach to cooking, he knew that this was what he wanted to focus upon.
Harris’s success story began in 1992 when he opened his own restaurant, Mia Francesca, a neighborly Italian Trattoria on North Clark Street in Chicago, serving excellent authentic regional Italian cuisine at reasonable prices. The restaurant was an immediate hit, not only for the quality of the food, but also its friendly, unpretentious look and feel. It was the kind of welcoming restaurant that attracted many regular customers who would eagerly come back day after day. Twenty years later, Francesca’s has become a Chicago institution. There are 20 Francesca’s restaurants in the Chicago metropolitan area as well as locations in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona and soon, California. Harris has also created a number of other concepts, including Davanti Enoteca, a new contemporary cousin to Francesca’s and another smash success.
Over the years, and with his signature attention to detail, Harris has created a company of restaurants with individual flair and neighborhood appeal while still maintaining consistency within the brand. Francesca’s restaurants’ close-knit, family-like atmosphere results from promoting people from within rather than hiring outside applicants. All restaurant em- ployees, from dishwashers to waiters, are encouraged to push themselves to move
up within the company.
“I have been blessed to be able to take my dream of opening my own restaurant and growing that dream to where it is today,” he says. “When people step into Francesca’s and any of my restaurants, I consider it like stepping into my home. I want to welcome them with open arms and make sure they have a wonderful experience. Fortunately, we’ve been able to accomplish that for 20 years. I am very proud that we’ve gained a wonderful family of customers and an amazing family of long time, loyal employees. It’s very fulfilling to see dishwashers and cooks, who are in the position I was in 25 years ago, grow into skilled restaurant professionals.”
The year 2012 represents the beginning of a new chapter, as the company prepares for major expansion throughout the country. Harris has put a top-notch executive team in place to guide this growth while maintaining the personal, family-like company feeling that is at the core of the Francesca’s brand.
Scott Harris is a native of Chicago. He currently lives in the Chicago and San Diego areas with his wife and two children.