It’s been 50-plus years since Regal Seating Company starting manufacturing its custom, made-to-order commercial bar stools and chairs. And that kind of longevity extends not only across years and generations, but also into the very social fabric of the Chicago area’s most vibrant restaurants and taverns. Whether you’ve frequented Lou Malnati’s Gold Coast Chicago location, Beer House Chicago in Lombard, or Stout Barrel House and Galley on the Near North Side, you’ve seen the handiwork of Regal and its president, Jerry Saviano.
On a grander scale, Regal has manufactured the seating for all the restaurants in the ever-expanding Buona Beef empire, which includes more than two-dozen outlets, mainly in Illinois and now in Wisconsin. And Regal seating helps lend a Taylor Street vibe to the Al’s Beef outlets in Chicago, Las Vegas and San Jose.
You want classy? Regal built the seating at Nellcôte Restaurant, which looks right at home alongside the white Italian marble, art nouveau wrought iron gates and crystal chandeliers.
To hear Saviano tell it, it’s very much a story of perseverance, humility and unwavering dedication to quality. “You just never give up,” says Saviano, 73, who grew up in the Taylor Street neighborhood and attended Manley High School, where he learned the basics of upholstery. By age 23, he was in business with two partners, and Regal was born. He bought those two partners out as time went on, and faced his share of adversity along the way.
In 1968, a fire that made front page headlines leveled his 25,000-square-foot facility, and he was forced to wait six months before he could start over. Then in 1970, a sour economy and labor difficulties almost did the business in for good. But Saviano stuck it out as a man of determination and faith. (He’s on the board of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii.)
For Saviano, family lies at the heart and soul of his company’s success. In 2005, his younger son Vincent joined the Regal team, bringing with him a master’s degree in finance. Not long after, his older son Danny joined the fold and oversees production for Regal.
“I’m very, very happy my sons have become a part of the business. They came in and they’re doing a great job.” He also singles out his wife of 52 years, Ginny, as a driving force. Though she never worked at Regal, “there were many times when it was tough and she was always there for me and the kids.”
Today, Regal products can be found in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, hotels and casinos in all 50 states, Canada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Their products are customized and made-to-order, with upholstery done at their factory in Addison, Ill. The wood frames are made of solid, 100 percent European beech for strength and durability and imported directly from Europe. Steel frames are made in the United States.
“Every three or four years you change styles, you change colors,” he says. “That’s very important because things change. It’s such a different world, with imports coming in from China. But I don’t buy anything from China. Quality is the key, and if you’ve got the quality, the cream will rise to the top and you will sell.”
“I’m so thankful that we’re in business after 50 years,” Saviano adds, “and there’s still room to grow.”
Regal Seating Co.
844 S. Kay Ave.
Addison, Ill. 6010