Steve Vai Event: Over $140,000 Raised For Little Friends


The Win/Win

What started with a simple comment about giving back to the community quickly gained traction when Michael Vai, owner of VAI’s Italian, contacted his rockstar guitarist brother, Steve, to see if he’d be interested in donating his time and talents for charity. That phone call eventually manifested into an epic rock concert at Wentz Hall in support of Little Friends and their mission. 

Big hearts with big visions, require a team. Little Friends, VAI’s Italian, Wentz Hall, Blooming Color, Morley Pedals, Two Brothers, and fire + wine came together in February of 2019 and drafted a big plan. Lofty numbers (to small businesses) were thrown out. Could this event raise $25k? Was $50k possible? No one expected the event would raise over $100k net for Little Friends; something that thrilled Steve Vai, Little Friends and partners alike. 

People from all over the US and as far away as Australia flew into Chicago for the benefit concert. There were rare opportunities for participants to meet Steve and his band, and other opportunities for fans to see the band’s (often-private) sound check process, up close and personal. Local students at School of Rock in Glen Ellyn were invited for a once in a lifetime experience to open for Steve. August 3rd & 4th marked a very special moment in time for many. 

Many thanks to Morley Pedals for donating two, one-of-a-kind, fully wrapped, custom Wah Wah Pedals; to Two Brothers for donating to the concert’s Black Box event; to Blooming Color for providing amazing printed graphics; to Wentz Hall for providing an outstanding, organized, and beautiful venue experience, and to fire + wine for donating to the cause. Together, with the help of partners, concert goers, and private donors, the event raised a gross total of $140,000 for Little Friends. 

The Vai family are deeply grateful to everyone who collaborated on, and showed up for this spectacular charity event. As the family says..


“Onwards & Upwards”


Colleen B. ~ Corporate Dinner 11/8/19

Dear Michael, Thank you for the wonderful dinner last night.  The service and food were top-notch! I especially appreciate all the accommodation made for our employee with the gluten allergy.  Very much appreciated. I gave you a 5-star yelp review.  I highly recommend...

Chris B. ~ Via Email

Hi Michael! Dinner was absolutely amazing.  I can't thank you enough for your recommendations on the menu and for putting together such an incredible experience for my friends and family!  Your restaurant was posted on Facebook by everyone who attended.  Quite a few...

Chris C. ~ Yelp

"Amazing experience.  My wife and I dined in on the Saturday immediately after Valentines Day, so we were expecting a long wait, but we were seated extremely quickly (without reservations).  My first impression of the restaurant is that it was very nice/clean/new.  We...

Steve V. ~ Direct Email

"We were there last night. Myself, my wife Karen, and her son Payton. We've been to fire & wine several times before and we're at this restaurant once this past summer. I have to say the food was outstanding the service was incredible. They made you feel very...

Rieko T. ~ Yelp 1/13/19

"Wow! We now have another favorite restaurant in Naperville. Knowing there's a new restaurant after a BBQ house or something on Rt 59, we hadn't tried it yet.  Today we gave it a try and, wow, we loved it so much! We were not very hungry but had: Beets Salad Spicy...

Craig Z. ~ Yelp

Best dining experience I've had in years. The food was cooked exactly as it was ordered. The service was impeccable and we were treated like we were the only ones in the restaurant (we weren't). Definitely would recommend this venue.

Bob P. ~ Yelp

"VAI's has been open for 6 months and is already #1 on our list of restaurants in the Western suburbs. Ample parking, great beer and wine selections, efficient and friendly staff and terrific food. My favorites are the meatball sliders, salmon and pizza."

Laura B. ~ MetLife

"Everything went super well. I received a lot of very positive feedback on how wonderful the food was and the service was amazing. A definite hit and I’ll be reaching out in the future when I need a venue for some of our smaller gatherings and senior leadership...

Stephanie Pendolino

I heard from many in our group that this was our best friendsmas, mostly b/c of the food but also the service! I am so happy that you guys are close to us now. A couple of the couples had not yet been there & will be back! You & Anthony have always put your...

Darcy Vignesh ~ Skokie

"Great environment with amazing food! Staff was excellent and friendly! Will definitely be back and pass along the info for this amazing restaurant!"
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