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Quick Bites - Restaurant Rebound 

click to enlarge The once bustling merenda space will reopen as 900 Wall in April.
  • The once bustling merenda space will reopen as 900 Wall in April.
The once bustling merenda space will reopen as 900 Wall in April.
After being courted by several big name chains, the space formerly occupied by Merenda has a new tenant in 900 Wall, a local group spearheaded by former Merenda GM Mike Millette who plans to open his new restaurant in early April. The restaurant will include some minor touchups of the restaurant's interior, which has sat unused since Merenda closed its doors in early January. Millette said the restaurant will be instantly recognizable to Merenda fans, but will feature a retooled menu, which former Merenda and Deep chef Cliff Eslinger is testing right now. The new menu will put focus more on dishes that are accessible and recognizable to the general public. Millette said the restaurant would like to expand from its base of upwardly mobile urban diners to casual and family diners.

"Jody's food was tremendous, but there are some people who were really not that knowledgeable about food," Millette said. "We're still a meat and potatoes town."

Other changes include a slightly scaled back wine list, but more options at lower price points. The restaurant will also bring back its popular happy hour drink and food specials.

Happy hours and price point dining are a theme in the reconstituted restaurant scene.

Down the road at Fireside Red, owners Michael Jasilewicz and Peter Keenan have reopened their popular restaurant and tapas bar, which closed temporarily earlier this winter. Jasilewicz said the restaurant used the downtime for a minor interior remodel and a complete menu overhaul from Chef Ryan Barnett. Like Merenda, Fireside plans to feature an extensive happy hour menu, while providing more options for diners at lower price points on the dinner menu.

The restaurant is also temporarily scaling back its hours, offering dinner five days (Tues.-Sat.) a week though Jasilewicz said they will likely ramp up to seven days a week and increase hours during the Memorial to Labor Day tourist season.

In other brief industry news, Zydeco owners Steve and Cherie Brown Helt confirmed that they are, in fact, moving their popular Third Street restaurant downtown into the former Volo space on Bond, near their other downtown restaurant, 28, sometime in April.


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