Published 10:28 pm Thursday, March 22, 2012
As Restaurant Week, Suffolk’s celebration of food service, continues this week, plans are afoot for a resurgence of the restaurant industry on West Washington Street.
Jade’Soul to Soul has opened in the space Bullies recently vacated, and the Plaid Hatter will open soon in the former Primo 116 Italian Bistro building.
“I believe in downtown (Suffolk),” Plaid Hatter owner Ed Beardsley said this week. “It looks like it’s moving in the right direction again.”
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Beardsley, whose Plaid Turnip restaurant is located in the 100 block of North Main Street, is finalizing details for the Plaid Hatter, which will be located in another leased space around the corner from the existing restaurant.
“If you only have one restaurant choice, you’re trapped in there,” he said, adding that he believes multiple choices of venues for eating out will bring more diners downtown. “And if you get more people down here, it will take care of all of us.”
As Bullies and then Primo closed, downtown dining options dwindled significantly. But the new restaurants planned for West Washington — and another in the works for North Main Street — will give diners a variety of food types from which to choose.
Jade’Soul to Soul is bringing traditional soul food to the city’s core, specializing in regional favorites ranging from oxtails and pigs feet to more widely accessible dishes like lasagna and steak.
“We plan to cook some food for (customers’) souls and give them some good service,” said Terry Towns, who owns the restaurant with his wife Jade, its head chef and namesake.
After leasing the space, the couple immediately removed the dance floor and set things up so it would be more of a restaurant than a bar, Towns said.
“We’re trying to attract a different kind of crowd,” he said.
The Plaid Hatter, too, will be aiming for a different group of customers than its predecessor enjoyed by serving gourmet Italian food.
Beardsley said he was originally interested in the restaurant because of the four ovens its kitchen boasts. He plans to use those ovens to help expand the bakery selection at the Plaid Turnip.
During the week, though, the Plaid Hatter will open as a tea room by day, with lighter, more health-conscious lunches than are available at the Turnip. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Hatter will open during the evening hours as a tapas restaurant and wine bar.
Tapas are appetizer- or snack-sized servings of various dishes. Beardsley said he expects each of the dishes to be reasonably priced and easy to pair with the wines that will be offered. The menu will change monthly, and the atmosphere, he said, will be different than what can be found elsewhere downtown.
“This will be a nice social alternative for adults,” he said.
“If I can do anything to increase the draw down here, then I’ll do it.”