Bistro on Sterling carries on where Fresh Starts left off

  Bistro on Sterling owner Rich Cairo in the restaurant
  bar area.
(Photo by Carrie Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)
 
Fans of the longtime restaurant Fresh Starts in Flossmoor can experience a fresh new look and new menu items as the longtime eatery reopened May 19 under new ownership as the Bistro on Sterling.
 
Husband and wife Rich and Tracy Cairo of Frankfort took the helm from Joann Lindholm, who owned the business for 31 years. The Cairos have made some subtle changes in operation, bold shifts in appearance and are continuing to provide high-quality cuisine in a cozy and comfortable atmosphere.
 
“Owning a restaurant and bar has always been in the back of our minds,” Tracy said. “We’ve both worked in hotels and bars and it’s always been a passion.”
 
Tracy spent the last six years working for Fresh Starts in catering, and Rich has helped, as well as tending bar.
 
“Joann put off-site catering in my hands. And Rich and I managed the tent for Flossmoor Fest for four or five years,” she said. “One day, Joann told us she wanted to retire. We thought it would be the perfect opportunity. It all seemed to fall in place and we just went from there.”
 
The Cairos remodeled the restaurant and were ready to reopen in just a week and a half after their takeover. They extended the bar by eight feet and added six more bar seats. A large curio cabinet was replaced with a decorative separation wall to expand the dining room. 
 
They also added a television in the bar, a response to customer feedback. Tracy said it was common for customers to leave during popular sporting events. The response to that change has been positive, she said.
 
And while the menu isn’t identical to the previous one, the Cairos have kept many of the popular entrees, sandwiches and salads. They also added a selection of child-friendly items on a new children’s menu. They plan to change the menu seasonally and to expand catering with more options for business luncheons and special events.
 
Tracy said that the wine club that Lindholm introduced will soon return, enabling subscribers to receive a newsletter with recommended wines each month and discounts on retail wine and dining.
 
At a ribbon cutting on May 24, Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun joined police and fire officials in welcoming the Cairos, who appreciated the support. 

“I really want to thank the village and mayor for coming out,” said Rich. “It means a lot.”
 
The 60-seat dining establishment with a 20-seat bar accepts reservations and is open for lunch and dinner service from Tuesday through Saturday. A new website is in the works, and patrons can follow the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.
 
Rich is at the restaurant regularly to greet customers and manage the staff, who have stayed on.
 
“I like being around people and talking to people,” he said. “This is a great town, a beautiful community. Everybody is so friendly here and seems to like what we’ve done.”
 
He looks forward to hearing stories from customers and getting to know them.
 
“We’ve become a family here ― the whole staff. And when people come in the door we want them to feel like family.”

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