Restaurateur D. Petty’s Blue 47 fine dining restaurant was the crown jewel of Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, and when a predawn fire ripped through the building in January 2010, the neighborhood was devastated.

Nearly two years to the day D. Petty is back with a brand new venue and business model, where customers can secure extra perks with an introductory rate of $1,500 annual membership to D. Petty’s Luxury Lifestyle Membership Club. The restaurant will be open to the public, but members will get preferential treatment.

“With membership, you can have some privileges that give you some longevity and a place to call your own,” D. Petty explains. “Members will get ten guest passes per month; you get free valet parking; you get birthday parties and the networking opportunities that you have here are just incredible.”

The membership aspect is also a great tool for crowd selection, D. Petty adds.

“In fine dining, you want people who have expendable income and that membership ensures that you’re getting that individual. This is not a place for an affluent, multimillionaire, those individuals can go anywhere. We’re looking for that professional who cares about where they eat and what type of atmosphere they’re in, and have some expendable income.”

Far from Bronzeville, but a stone’s throw from Chicago’s South Loop, the new restaurant, (located at 600 West Cermak) sits smack dab in the middle of Chicago’s melting pot, D. Petty says.

“This is the only place where you can go two blocks east and have Asian Americans, two blocks west and have Hispanics, two blocks north and have Caucasians, and two blocks south and have Blacks,” he gushes. “And we’re right off the expressway, which puts us right in the middle of the city.”

D. Petty’s Luxury Lifestyle Membership Club kicks off its Sunday Brunch Series on Jan. 29; the menu will include macaroni, chicken, catfish, waffles, omelets, and other brunch items for a flat fee.

D. Petty teases, “When we open for dinner, we’ll have steak, chicken, fish, very similar to what Blue47 menu was like.”

Here, D. Petty gives rolling out a sneak peek of his venue, and business sense.

How did you enter the food industry?
I started in business at an early age; I bought my first property when I was 21.

I started out as a promoter I was doing a lot of parties, and I definitely thought the way to go, from a [progressive] standpoint was that I had to have my own event space. So we started off with a lounge and eventually moved into fine dining, so it’s a process, just a natural progression.

Was it a major difference between running a lounge vs. a restaurant?
It’s a huge difference; it’s hard to mess up a drink, but it’s easy to mess up a steak.

There’s more overhead in a restaurant, you have chefs, and managers, and general managers, a lot of people that’s taking from your bottom line. Whereas in a lounge, you pretty much have bartenders, servers and drinks. Drinks never go bad — food does.

How did you resolve to open a new space after you lost Blue47 to the fire?
I have no other choice, that’s my basic income and that’s the way I earn a living. From the standpoint of real estate, the market is down, and normally when there’s an economy that’s down, the liquor and food market is usually up, because people love to drink when they’re depressed.

What is your best advice to future entrepreneurs?
Be exposed; don’t reinvent the wheel. Do the same thing that everyone else is doing.

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Deputy Editor, Rolling Out