Rosario Caprio has fond memories of hanging out at the old Cafe Roma in Palos Heights and knew he wanted to open his own coffee shop. That was around 12 years ago when the coffee house boom was in full effect and Starbucks began popping up in every town.
He ended up with a job at Buona Pizza while he went to school to study drafting. Buona had been open about a year and was in trouble from the get go, with immediate lawsuits stemming from the use of its name.
Caprio saw other problems with the business as well, but also saw potential. He offered to buy it and the owner accepted. The name was changed and the lawsuit disappeared.
"Heck – they were so happy for a name change, they even paid for the sign," Caprio said.
Caprio was happy too. Although it wasn't a cafe, he had his own business in Palos Heights. His brother Carlo is a silent partner, but another career keeps him away from the restaurant on most days.
“Those first few years were scary though,” he said. “People always told me, it's going to take two to five years to see a profit – they were right – I was coming in here every day crying, saying, 'oh man, what did you get yourself into.'”
But as year six rolled around things started looking up, and now in his 12th year of business, Caprio has begun to consider adding additional locations.
“Of course now, we're just coming out of the recession, and the past three years have been a little scary too, but things have turned around this year and it's looking good,” he said.
You can find Caprio at the shop six days a week, helping out with all facets of the business, from working the register to helping with carryout and catering orders.
While the sign says , Caprio said they are also well known for their salads and pasta, which are popular sellers at lunch.
The restaurant offers a daily special on different items and also has a $5.95 lunch menu served Monday through Friday. Caprio's full menu – and catering menu – is available at their website.
Even with the variety of Caprio's menu, he admits he looks around for other places to grab lunch every now and then.
“You can only eat your own food so much – I'll tell you I can't wait until that Wendy's opens across the street, I love Wendy's,” he said.
Caprio said he thinks all of the construction at the new Jewel Osco on 127th Street will help his restaurant, which is right across Harlem Avenue.
“They're are going to put a light here, so people might stop and look around little now – a lot of people don't know we're here,” he said.
He also said he is not worried about competition from the Wendy's because the food is very different and “no one is going to eat Wendy's every day, just like I don't eat here every day, I think it will help business.”
Caprio's is located at 12778 S. Harlem Ave. in a small strip mall. There is a small dine-in area and carryout and delivery is available.