NEW PORT RICHEY — A vacant downtown building will become the home of an upscale restaurant.
Dulcet Restaurant and Lounge is slated to open this fall, probably by November, partner David J. Hall Jr. said Tuesday.
Nelson Ohihoin and Doreen Scott are playing vital roles in the project, Hall said.
The definition of “dulcet” provided inspiration for the name, which can mean sweet to the taste or smell, pleasant to the eye and pleasant to the ear, Hall explained.
The project tastes pretty sweet to New Port Richey officials, too, after watching many storefronts go vacant during the recession.
The building at 6220 Grand Blvd., at the corner of Missouri Avenue, formerly housed the Moose Lodge, Downtown Lounge and other establishments.
Now the Dulcet partners are investing some $500,000 toward the upscale restaurant, Hall said. Plans call for a fine-dining experience that becomes a destination point for patrons from the area.
By happenstance, the Dulcet team stumbled across the downtown building, said Mario Iezzoni, the city’s economic development manager. Ohihoin told city officials the restaurant originally was destined for the Trinity area, Iezzoni said.
So the project kind of dropped into the laps of local leaders during economic recovery.
“I was sold right away,” Hall said about the New Port Richey location. The trio saw enough the first evening just peering through windows of the locked building. The next day they arranged a tour.
“Oh yeah, we could do some nice things in here,” Hall recalled thinking about the building at the time. The search for a location had been going on for some time, Hall said, first in the New Tampa area, anchored by Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. A spot in Trinity seemed suitable, but snags developed.
Crews have gutted the roughly 6,000-square-foot building and should proceed with extensive renovations within the next few weeks, Hall said.
“They have been very, very kind to us getting everything done in a fast-track manner,” Hall said of city building permit officials.
Dulcet will have seating for 170 indoors and 80 in the outdoor patio area alongside Cavalier Square behind the building.
A recent job posting for executive chef drew eight applicants within the first week, Hall said.
The chef will oversee culinary art design in preparation of many European-style dishes. The “picturesque” arrangement of food on the plates will look so good that patrons might be reluctant to disturb the food by eating it, Hall remarked.
Dulcet will have a staff of about 35 to cater to lunch and dinner patrons, Hall added. The restaurant also will be ideal for office parties.
Plans call for valet parking. The red carpet will be rolled out for guests. A hostess will greet guests as they enter.
A cascading water wall 10 feet tall and 17 feet long will help soothe guests as they are ushered to their tables on the ground floor.
A balcony will offer a VIP lounge and bar, along with the break room for employees and the sound booth for background music.
Dulcet will not mimic other bars and restaurants in the community, Hall emphasized. “We’re looking to be that destination spot,” he said, hoping to pull patrons from Trinity, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, east Pasco and other areas.
“We want to make sure every experience, every step you take that it is memorable and that you will come back,” Hall said.