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City of Highland Park, Ballyhoo Hospitality Partner to Bring DeNucci's to Highland Park

City of Highland Park, Ballyhoo Hospitality Partner to Bring Italian-American DeNucci’s Concept to Highland Park

February 2, 2024 – In the first partnership of the City of Highland Park’s (the City) new boutique incentive program designed to attract well-established, successful restaurant groups to Highland Park, the City and Ballyhoo Hospitality (Ballyhoo) have entered into an agreement that will see Ballyhoo’s DeNucci’s concept open a new restaurant in Downtown Highland Park. Ballyhoo plans to bring their second DeNucci’s restaurant to Renaissance Place at 1850 Second St., Unit 110, in fall 2024. The restaurant concept promises an inviting ambiance with old-school Italian charm and a fresh appeal. Guests who dine at DeNucci's will be able to experience an authentic, approachable, warm, and welcoming environment while enjoying classics like Artichoke Vesuvio, Mozzarella al Forno and Veal Marsala. The menu also features NY-influenced pies using the beloved recipe by Salvatore “Sal” Lo Cascio (Ballyhoo’s Pizzaiolo overseeing Coda di Volpe, Pizza by Sal and DeNucci’s).

The agreement bridges the gap between the contributions of the business owner/operator and the property owner relative to eligible renovation expenses, including remodeling of the existing interior restaurant space, enclosed patio, and kitchen on the property. Ballyhoo will take on responsibility for the remaining renovation costs. The Tabani Group, which owns the Renaissance Place property, is also a partner in this project through their lease obligations and terms with Ballyhoo. To protect the City’s financial investment, the agreement provides for a percentage of funds to be returned to the City on a sliding scale if the restaurant doesn’t open or ceases operations in Highland Park within the first five years. 

“We are very excited to be a part of the community in Highland Park,” said Ryan O’Donnell, Founder and CEO of Ballyhoo Hospitality. “Since opening our first restaurant on the North Shore in 2020, we have always felt Highland Park would be a neighborhood we would expand into. We look forward to sharing DeNucci’s with you soon.”

Economic Development is one of the City’s core priorities, and the Business Development Strategic Plan includes measurable strategies and actions to support the local economy through business attraction, retention, planning, zoning, and infrastructure investment, and marketing communications. In August, 2023, the City Council supported an expansion of the City’s economic incentive offerings, designating funds to be used as part of boutique incentive packages of grants and/or low-interest loans for sought-after restaurant groups. This business attraction strategy has been successfully implemented by federal, state, county and local governments, including neighboring suburbs of Chicago. In forming this program, the City joined other North Shore communities in recognizing the value of investing in businesses that bring employment, high-volume foot traffic, sales to their main commercial districts, and vibrancy. Tailored to the specific needs of the intended restaurant and conditions of the existing space, these boutique incentive packages are developed through negotiations between the City, property owner, and prospective business operator.

Since 2020, the City has advanced numerous policy changes to support economic development throughout Highland Park’s business districts. In 2024, the City will undertake a number of infrastructure projects in Downtown Highland Park, including the street resurfacing in the heart of the Central Business District and enhanced streetscape design and amenities along the Second Street corridor. In August 2023, City Council increased the budget and expanded the scope of the then-Small Business Façade Improvement Program to support existing Highland Park businesses in funding exterior improvements to their building and outdoor dining infrastructure. Under the new Exterior Grant Improvement Program, Highland Park businesses may now submit eligible improvement expenses for reimbursement of up to 50% of the project costs to a maximum of $20,000. Other incentive programs to support Highland Park’s economic vitality include the Sales Tax Rebate Program, which incentivizes high sales tax-producing businesses in the form of a rebate, and reduced pricing for employee parking permits purchased in bulk.

Previously, the City Council approved amendments to the Zoning Code to permit experiential businesses in Downtown Highland Park and removal of the Pedestrian-Oriented Shopping Overlay (POSO) to expand the types of allowable businesses in ground-floor spaces in Downtown Highland Park’s Central Business District.  

More information about the City of Highland Park’s Business Development Strategic Plan, economic incentives for prospective and existing businesses, and business support services is available at


About Ballyhoo Hospitality

Ballyhoo Hospitality is the self-described destination for feel-good dining. Founded by longtime hospitality industry veterans Ryan and Anna O'Donnell, Ballyhoo delivers the restaurant experience that guests desire. By pairing inspired menus with a unique ambiance, Ballyhoo focuses on all things quality - from the meals to the atmosphere and, above all, the service. Marrying sophistication with the nostalgia of everyone’s favorite neighborhood restaurant, Ballyhoo seeks to create an inviting atmosphere giving guests a reason to dine out with family and friends close to their homes. Ballyhoo is redefining neighborhood dining throughout Chicago and the North Shore with restaurants including Gemini, Coda di Volpe, Old Pueblo Cantina, Sophia Steak, Pomeroy, Buck Russell’s, Pizza by Sal, and DeNucci's, and continues to expand to more communities.

About the City of Highland Park

Twenty-five miles north of Chicago's Loop, the City of Highland Park is nestled along beautiful Lake Michigan, at the heart of the metropolitan area's most affluent residential markets. Highland Park is a thriving community with a diverse population of over 30,000, a stable economic base, top-rated schools, and a university-affiliated hospital, offering some of the most unique business opportunities in Lake County.  It is easily accessible from Route 41, I-94, I-294, and is served by Pace Bus and Metra. From one end to the other, Highland Park's business community is diverse and growing, with eight commercial districts conveniently located throughout the City.