Tramonto, in particular, was extremely reflective. The chef, who recently turned 45, says he's reached "a very interesting place in my life."
He's working on his seventh book, "Rick Tramonto's Steak and Friends," due out in October 2010. It's his first casual book, the type with photos of him "in street clothes."
Tramonto also is writing his memoirs, to be published by a Christian publishing house in 2011. And he is consulting with the Cleveland Clinic on wellness programs and the inpatient food program.
"We have a dark industry in a lot of ways. There's so much excess in the industry, drugs, alcohol. Back in the day, you were like a vampire. You slept all day, worked at night then went out," said Tramonto, who himself abused drugs. "So for me, the next 10 years is about mentoring and teaching and taking the next step in giving back to kids and to the industry."
Both Tramonto and Gand says they hope to see another 10 years at Tru and open more concepts. (Their restaurant group, Cenitare, which operated Gale's Coffee Bar, Tramonto Steak and Seafood and RT Lounge in Wheeling, dissolved last year.) Gand said she'd be up for more Gale's Coffee Bar, breakfast-y places, while Tramonto says he's "tinkering with some burger stuff ... But again, it's locations, it's timing, who would like to do it with me.
"Do I need to do five more restaurants? No, not really. I admire the guys who have 15 restaurants. But everything has a cost. Everything takes a toll on you."