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The Official Publication of the Illinois Restaurant Association
January 2016

Meet the New Chairman of the Board: Dan Costello


The Illinois Restaurant Association’s 2016 Chairman of the Board is a man born and raised in the restaurant industry – Dan Costello, President of Home Run Inn Pizza. Home Run Inn has been a Chicago staple for over 70 years. On Tuesday, February 23, the IRA will proudly induct and welcome Dan as our 2016 Chairman at the Annual Meeting and Luncheon. We recently sat down with Dan to find out more about his background in the culinary industry and his insights for fellow industry leaders.

  • Tell us a little about your history.
    • My grandfather was able to enter this country as an immigrant farmer from Italy in the 1920s. He came with little and worked incredibly hard to provide his family with an identity that would flourish for generations. His courage unlocked creativity and passion that has added immeasurable value to hundreds of thousands of guest and employee lives over the past seven decades. It is with great pride that my family and myself continue his legacy as we grow and care for the company he started, Home Run Inn Pizza.

      I am now the President of the restaurant group, leading the restaurant division. I have worked the past 20 years to define and develop Home Run Inn's restaurant brand and strategy. I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the restaurant group and lead more than 500 team members in running one of Chicago’s most recognizable pizza brands. A family-owned and operated company; I am a fourth-generation family member serving in management and leadership roles within the business and family council of Home Run Inn.

  • How did you get where you are today?
    • Joe Perrino, CEO at Home Run Inn, has been very good about giving me opportunity and guidance over the past 20 years. Through his encouragement, he gave me the push I needed to step out of my comfort zone, and join organizations like the IRA and Young Presidents Organization. These opportunities have connected me with incredible leaders and mentors that have shaped my career path and helped me get to where I am today.
  • To what do you attribute your success?
    • To many things...balance in life, a great family support system, and the willingness to frame failure as a way to learn about what doesn't work. The ability to persevere through difficult challenges and a dedication to overcome instead of becoming overcome has helped me greatly.
  • Do you have any advice for aspiring restaurateurs?
    • Know your purpose. Why are you entering this industry? Be sure to understand financial risk and reward are the results of what we do. Do you know why you do it?
  • What is your biggest challenge?
    • My biggest challenge is creating alignment throughout our organization. Making sure we consistently communicate our vision and mission to all of our teammates is so critical to our success. But the day-to-day pull of the operations sometimes dominates our discussions, and we lose focus on communicating what is truly important.
  • What is your biggest reward in working in the industry?
    • When I make people happy. When guests have a great experience and tell us about it or one of teammates succeeds and has a great victory for him or herself. Those times are very rewarding for me!

  • What would your last meal be and with whom would you share it?
    • I would have filet mignon with my wife.

  • What do you see as being the most valuable resources/service that the IRA provides to its members?
    • It is a passionate group of people that make me feel like I have another part of my company going to bat for me everyday. Sam and his team members work tirelessly to get our industry in the conversation with local, state, and federal lawmakers. They market our industry and its talents through events like Chicago Gourmet. They are a resource for “all things restaurants,” and, at the end of the day, many have become trusted and reliable friends.
What's On The Menu

A Taste of 2016

The IRA produces and supports special events for every palate – whether you are looking to rub elbows with celebrity chefs, connect with leaders in the foodservice industry, or just enjoy the sun and chow down. We look forward to seeing you year-round.

Annual Meeting & Luncheon - February 23, Union League Club
We kick off the year with our Annual Meeting and Installation of Officers Luncheon. Industry awards will also be presented for Vendor of the Year, Restaurateur of the Year and Sara Rowe ProStart® Company of the Year. Click here to register today.

James Beard Awards - May 2, Lyric Opera
For the second year in a row, Chicago will host this extraordinary culinary event – the Academy Awards of the food world. Don’t miss out on the after parties at Chicago’s top restaurants after the awards – stay tuned for additional information!

Blues Fest - June 10-12, Grant Park
Don't miss out on the largest free blues festival in the world - Chicago Blues Fest. The IRA manages the beverage operations at Blues, so we’ll keep you hydrated all weekend long!

Taste of Chicago - July 6-10, Grant Park
Come out and enjoy bites from over 60 restaurants, pop-ups, and food trucks in the beautiful July sunshine. Want to get in on Taste of Chicago? Applications for vendors are now available here. The IRA handles restaurant and beverage operations at Taste, and we look forward to seeing you in Grant Park!

Annual IRA Golf Classic - August 3, St. Andrews Golf Course
Over 300 golfers will participate in this member event that includes: breakfast and Bloody Mary bar, lunch, dinner, silent auction, and awards for Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin. A great day out on the links! Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Hamburger Hop - September 23, Harris Theatre Rooftop
At this kick-off to Chicago Gourmet, 15 chef participants will serve up mouth-watering burgers and compete for People’s Choice Award and Judge’s Choice Award at this record sell-out event.

Chicago Gourmet - September 24-25, Millennium Park
Voted Chicago’s favorite festival by CS Magazine, this IRA signature event includes 200+ chefs, tasting pavilions, Chef demos, wine and spirit tastings, book signings and more. Keep your eye out for our spring pre-sale event.

Chef’s Table – November 2016
A night of entertainment and culinary treats, the event showcases some of Chicago's most renowned restaurants and welcomes over 600 food service professionals for an event honoring the IRA Educational Foundation and ProStart® programs.

For ticketing information or questions about event specifics, please contact Ashley Brandon, Deputy Director of Special Events at (312) 380-4133 or


One Day That Goes a Long Way


Election years are always an exciting time in politics. It is vital that restaurateurs build relationships with the state legislators that are constantly making decisions that will have significant impacts on our business’ bottom lines.

The IRA has had several significant legislative successes on the state level in recent years, from the passage of the Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act to the restoration of tourism funding throughout the state. Springfield Lobby Day is your chance to get face time with dozens of legislators that will go a long way to protect the interests of our industry.

Register today for Springfield Lobby Day, and join the IRA delegation on March 2 as we put the issues we care about on center stage with members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office. It is the perfect chance to sit down and have honest, meaningful conversations with elected officials about how important issues like taxes, a uniform minimum wage, tip credit, labor mandates, and tourism funding are to your business and restaurateurs throughout Illinois. Consider it a one-day investment in your business and the future of our industry.

Click here to read the 2016 Springfield Lobby Day FAQs. For more information about joining the delegation, contact Matt Quinn at (312) 380-4122 or

A La Carte

Tips from the Insurance Professionals at Heil & Kay


Your business is not just your business – it’s your dream and the source of your income and the incomes of those that count on you. At Heil & Kay, we make sure that there are no surprises when it comes to protecting that dream and protecting your employees. We will take the time to review misleading terms and make sure you know how your insurance will work for you.

Here are some invaluable insurance policy language tips from IRA Advisory Council members John Heil and Glenn Keefer:

  • Insurance policy language can be misleading and downright counterintuitive. The term “Protective Safeguard Endorsement” found on certain policies sounds like a bonus on your policy that adds coverage, but actually this is wording that can limit your coverage, since it holds the insured responsible for the function of certain safety devices stipulated in the policy. If your policy has this endorsement and these certain safety devices are found to have been inoperative at the time of the loss, your claim could be denied.

  • Designated Premises endorsements on your policy are meant to limit the insurance company’s exposure to claims to the primary business premises listed on your policy. Say you have this endorsement on your policy, and you are catering an event away from your restaurant. If the portable gas grill gets knocked over causing a fire, your coverage will likely be denied.

  • Perhaps you’ve gotten a certificate of insurance from your contractor that says you are listed on his or her insurance policy as an “additional insured.” However, if the contractor’s policy has not been endorsed (specifically added you to his policy) for the coverage illustrated on the certificate, you may not be covered.

  • Consider the term “coinsurance” that appears on property policies, which effectively determines the amount a business will receive in the event of property loss or business interruption. This is a common term on your health insurance policy, and after you’ve met your deductible, it’s pretty straight forward. For an office visit charge of $100 and a 20% coinsurance requirement, you pay $20. It’s not so straightforward on commercial property insurance. The coinsurance provision penalizes the insured’s loss recovery (your claim reimbursement check) if the limit of insurance purchased on the policy is not equal to or greater than a specified value of the subject property.

Having a fire or other covered loss cheat you from your income and your place of business is one thing; not being able to rebuild it and have income while you do so because your agent did not tell you the full story is another.

For more information, visit or call Heil & Kay at (847) 258-5310 and ask for Glenn Keefer.



Warm Up at Unite Urban Grill


As Chicagoans settle in to the crush of winter, Unite Urban Grill—the neighborhood steakhouse located in the heart of Chicago’s West Town—awakens spirits and taste buds with the debut of a new menu for the season.

Acclaimed for presenting finely-sourced and expertly-prepared ingredients in a contemporary, welcoming setting, the menu showcases hand-cut, grass-fed and organic grain-finished beef, basted with Unite’s irresistible, signature blend of Worcestershire, olive oil, garlic and thyme.

Unite’s new winter menu also features a line-up of inspiring dishes and cocktails that join the restaurant’s signature items and guest favorites.

The restaurant has been recognized as one of the Top 5 Neighborhood Restaurants of 2014 by NewCity magazine, one of Chicago’s Best Brunches by PureWow, and is consistently ranked as one of the Top 10 Best Steakhouses in Chicago on Yelp. In 2015, it was also recognized as the Best Restaurant in the West Town Chamber Business Awards.

Unite Urban Grill is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, please visit or the restaurant’s Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram feeds.

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