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Business Fri Apr 01 2011
The tight-knit community of foodies who will be in attendance at Sun Wah BBQ for the April 11 dinner and presentation ceremony for LTH Forum's Great Neighborhood Restaurant Awards will be in for a surprise when Lisa White and Craig Gotratz step to receive their hard-earned kudos. Did the pair open up a small but passionate restaurant that has earned a cult following for its vibrant menu? No. The two will represent a trend in dining that has banished locally owned, neighborhood restaurants to a dark corner for a return to chain restaurant eating.
Lisa and Craig are the day and night shift managers of an Olive Garden restaurant located near the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, a location that is getting national recognition from publications as Food and Wine for their refreshing rehashing of signature dishes such as lasagna, fettucine alfredo, and spaghetti and meatballs. Barry Ziolo, an LTH Forum member from suburban Milwaukee, has made the nearly 200 mile round trip to the Schaumburg Olive Garden several times over the past year to celebrate special family occasions, despite having two locations of the restaurant closer to his home. "From the blinking beeper that I get from the hostess to alert me to my waiting table, to the mints on the tray holding my bill, every meal is a memorable, affordable journey through the flavors of Italy that is reminiscent of my own ancestors' voyage as they left their small village in Sicily in 1905 to come to America." While Lisa and Craig will not be allowed to make a public statement at the GNR dinner, a rep from Olive Garden's corporate office in Orlando expressed the pair's gratitude for the award in a statement.