Felice’s Kitchen, the only student-run pizzeria in the nation, is set to close May 5 after being open for seven years.
The main reason Loyola Limited, a student-run program which operates several on-campus businesses, chose to close Felice’s Kitchen (6441 N. Sheridan Rd.) was the competition from other restaurants on Sheridan Road, according to an email obtained by The Phoenix.
Loyola junior Gillian Ruggeri works at Felice’s Kitchen as a manager and was vice president of finance during the 2017-18 academic year. She said she knew the restaurant was in debt and wasn’t making much money, but she’s still sad to see it go.
“I know that it’s time because we haven’t been making a lot of money, but I’ll definitely miss the food and the people there,” Ruggeri, 21, who’s studying psychology and criminal justice, said.
Rosa Maria Noriega, the president of Felice’s Kitchen who sent the email, said the presence of more restaurants on N. Sheridan Rd. caused Loyola Limited’s executive board to vote to replace the business with something else.
“When [Felice’s Kitchen] was opened, it was filling a need. There weren’t any restaurants that were open late, there weren’t any pizzerias,” Noriega, 21, said. “We came to the conclusion to take a step back and to really just reevaluate what we’re offering and if we can offer something better.”
Arantxa Valverde, Loyola Limited’s faculty program coordinator, said the original purpose of the pizzeria was to offer students late night food in a relatively empty area that was considered unsafe to walk in.
“Felice’s has served its intended purpose and is now located in a transformed commercial corridor that is blossoming with food options, increased foot traffic and more neighborhood amenities coming into the Rogers Edge area,” Valverde said in an email to The Phoenix.
On May 4, the Felice’s Kitchen staff plan to host an event with free pizza slices to thank their customers for supporting the restaurant for so long.
“We’re just really excited to be able to have everyone that’s been a part of Felice’s, all of our customers and students that have made this possible, come in so we can just say thank you for the dedication they’ve shown throughout those years and their loyalty,” Noriega said.
Felice’s Kitchen was created in 2012 by Loyola students who were inspired by a semester abroad at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center, according to the restaurant’s website.
“[Felice’s Kitchen] shows how much students can accomplish on their own,” Ruggeri said. “It takes away a business opportunity as well as a direct connection to the Rome Center that the Chicago campus has.”
Valverde said the space is set to be used for another Loyola Limited business venture. She said the group is still brainstorming ideas and students are welcome to suggest their own on Loyola Limited’s website.
“I know that people in my team, myself included, are all going to be pitching ideas,” Noriega said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be opening up something new, something fresh, something that can still bring all the learning experiences that Felice’s brings now.”
Julia Rivenburg, a Loyola sophomore studying communications, worked at Felice’s Kitchen as a cook and said it’s a special place on campus and she’s disappointed such a unique restaurant will close.
“Felice’s was one of the things where, when I toured Loyola and I saw there was a student-run pizza place, I was like, ‘Oh that’s really cool,’” Rivenburg, 20, said. “It’s a part of Loyola and the fact that it’s closing is really sad.”
Loyola Limited’s goal is to provide opportunities for students to run businesses, according to its website. Loyola Limited offers students the unique opportunity to control entire businesses, which wouldn’t be offered in other jobs run by professionals.
Noriega, a junior studying international business, said she learned skills she wouldn’t have learned in a regular job, such as how to handle restaurant health codes.
The restaurant became a place where employees made new friends and formed a community, some employees said.
“Working with people I probably wouldn’t have met at Loyola because they’re in different grades and different majors than I am was really fun,” Rivenburg said. “We formed our own Felice’s family. I’m gonna miss that.”
Although Noriega said she’s sad to see the restaurant close, she’s excited for the new business that will replace it.
“It is definitely sad to see a place that has held so many memories for so many years come to an end, but we’re all very motivated and dedicated towards creating something that creates a wonderful learning experience in order to fill that space,” Noriega said.