Milano's in Glacier reopening under new ownership this month

A restauranteur who has opened restaurants in Seattle, London and South America will reopen Milano’s Restaurant in Glacier later this month.

Dave Reera closed the restaurant after President’s Day, on Feb. 16, due to a lack of business during one of the worst ski seasons in recent history. Reera took over Milano’s in August 2014 from Tom and Jeannie DeBari, who opened the restaurant in 1990.

New owner Sam Hassan said he thinks with his experience and thrift, he can keep the restaurant going. Hassan opened Maple Falls Cafe in May 2013.

“I’m the king of doing things with half a shoe string,” Hassan said. He added that the Maple Falls Cafe is surviving despite being in a more difficult location than Glacier, in his opinion.

Milano’s will have a soft opening in a couple weeks and a grand opening party once Hassan obtains a liquor license, he said.

Before moving to Maple Falls, Hassan owned several restaurants in Seattle, including the Rio Brazilian Grill and the Paratii Craft Bar. Hassan, 58, said his only failed restaurant venture was the first restaurant he opened when he was 22 years old in Petropolis, Brazil, 40 miles north of Rio De Janeiro.

Hassan grew up on Santos, an island 45 miles southeast of Sao Paolo, Brazil. Despite his international background, Hassan feels at home in Maple Falls, he said.

“I fell in love with the community, I’m engaged to a local woman,” Hassan said. “I’m a maple Fallian now.”

Hassan became interested in Milano’s shortly after moving to Whatcom County. He sampled all the restaurants in Glacier and Maple Falls to make sure his planned restaurant wouldn’t be competing with anybody, he said.

“The place that really impressed me was Milano’s,” Hassan said. “It’s really good Italian fare properly done.”

The restaurants original owners, Tom and Jeannie DeBari, will help reopen Milano’s and Tom DeBari will be an occasional guest chef, Hassan said.

Hassan is still discussing the restaurant’s hours with its managers, but he said it won’t be open seven days a week. At least not yet.

Hassan has some changes planned for the restaurant, including a bar serving Italian drinks in a space previously used as a banquet room and monthly specials with food, desserts and drinks from specific regions of Italy.

But for the most part Hassan plans to keep Milano’s the same and run it with many of the same employees.

“What I’m trying to do is reopen Tom and Jeannie’s Milanos,” Hassan said. “It’s their baby.”

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