Owners of the new Prospect Café in West Hartford hope to open the restaurant in August.
By Ronni Newton
Although the interior of the Prospect Café still somewhat resembles a construction site, most of what remains to be done is the finish work and owners and brothers Paul and Jeff Emery are hopeful that everything is on track for a mid to late August opening of the restaurant that will feature an eclectic menu made from fresh local ingredients and a bar serving craft beers.
“We’re so excited to see it coming to life,” Paul said on Tuesday. He and Jeff are both thrilled with the reception they have received in town so far and the buzz that has been created around the reopening of one of West Hartford’s iconic restaurants.
The exterior of the building has already been spiffed up, with fresh black paint covering the teal trim and glossy red paint coating the doors. Landscaping surrounding the front and side entrances has been updated with flowers and decorative stones, and new plantings will be added as the season progresses, Paul said.
A window on the east side of the building (facing Prospect) has been replaced with French doors that will lead out from the former dining room – which will now be the bar area – to the enhanced patio where approximately 50 people will be able to sit on comfy cushioned chairs under 9-foot umbrellas that shield them from the weather.
A wall between the former pizza oven and the seating area was knocked down and reinforced with a steel beam that will be partially exposed along with an existing steel beam, adding to the vintage industrial character of the space. A tin ceiling that had been covered by a drop ceiling is now exposed as well.
Both the ladies’ and men’s rooms are being expanded for handicapped accessibility and have been completely gutted to be updated with nice new tile and plumbing.
Inside the cooking area of the restaurant, the kitchen has a brand new sealed red epoxy floor. The dishwasher has arrived, and the rest of the equipment will be installed and set to go in the next two weeks, Jeff said.
The fomer Prospect’s prep kitchen had been in the basement, but Jeff said that all of the prep work will now be done in the main kitchen. The basement, which is also undergoing renovation, will be used primarily for keeping beverages chilled and some refrigeration of food. The restaurant will not have a freezer.
Jeff said that the menu is still being tweaked, but his intent is for an almost entirely “scratch” kitchen. “All of the baking, everything will be made fresh here. Even the butter and the salad dressing,” Jeff said.
“We plan to source locally,” said Paul. There is great access to seafood and meats in the area, he said, and to some extent the menu will fluctuate based on what’s available nearby.
The bar will have a focus on local craft beers, and they are also in discussion with a local distillery for spirits. For mixers the plan is to use fresh lime and other juices and herbs. “No prepared mixes,” said Jeff. “You will be able to tell it’s different,” he said.
Both brothers said they are already enjoying working together on their creative vision. Although it has taken longer than anticipated to open, it’s been due to things that are out of their control. “The town has been great, but it’s just a process,” Jeff said.
The Emerys are confident the Prospect Café will appeal to a wide audience that appreciates quality food and service. “It will speak for itself,” Paul said.
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