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Field Table exterior

Field Table is trying to make better use of its up-close view of the Capitol. 

Field Table, which opened on the Capitol Square nearly three years ago as a restaurant, cafe, bar and market, is casting off its retail section and expanding its bar.

The business, 10 W. Mifflin St., will get a new name, look, chef and menu.

Owner Trish Davis isn't ready to reveal the restaurant's new name, but said "field- and farm-to-table" have become "industry terms," and alone aren't able to set the restaurant apart.

The restaurant will still rely on "field-to-table" ingredients that honor farmers, she added.

The remodeling project has meant that Field Table has been shut down for the past month, and was closed certain days for part of December to allow carpenters access to the front area, which is being overhauled.

"We needed the total front of the house to come apart, to be rebuilt, so that's when I had to go completely dark for the last three to four weeks," Davis said.

The idea is to expand the bar area and make it "more loungy." She's adding 30 to 40 percent more bar seats. Davis said the resulting restaurant and bar will be warmer and cozier, with "a lot more decadent fabrics in the upholstery."

She's putting in what she describes as custom-built, modern booths made with unique fabrics that she and her upholsterer felt "reflected what's missing here on the Square."

Davis, who opened Field Table with former Isthmus food writer Andre Darlington as the restaurant's consultant, now runs the place on her own. She has a couple of investors.

She's ditching the retail and "grab-and-go" area with its shelves to make space for a new seating area, where customers will have a view of the Capitol.

"We can still do to-go food. We just don't want to dedicate the real estate to it in that prime, front quadrant of the restaurant," Davis said.

Davis isn't sure when the restaurant will reopen. "I don't have an exact date, unfortunately. I think because of the complexity of what the building is doing to fix their water damage, we just don't know."

In November, the sprinkler system in the 13-story building malfunctioned and dumped thousands of gallons of water throughout the building, Davis said. "The whole building has been through some really world class water remediation and drying. They did a great job, though. I've been really impressed with the whole process."

Davis isn't naming her new chef or giving details about his menu, but said they'll be working with Field Table's same suppliers and taking the menu "to a whole new level."

The back part of the bar won't be used as a coffee shop counter, as in the past, but customers can still stop in for coffee to-go at the bar, Davis said.

"In fact, it's a warmer place to sit," she said. "It's the same products. It's just more bar-centric."

Prices will stay the same, Davis said, calling them "really approachable." She said she wants people to think of the revamped restaurant as one of the "third places" in their lives. "Not their home, not their workplace, but a place they're welcome any time of day."

The restaurant won't offer breakfast, but will be open for lunch, dinner and  in between. It will also be open later into the evening than it had been.

Davis is trying to hire kitchen staff and for other positions. She's also hoping to retain many of her recent employees.

How many stay "remains to be seen," she said. "I think they're doing really well. They're all participating in as much as they can in the transition."

Davis said she's thankful to be able to do what she loves. "We're deeply grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve Madison great ingredients with a higher level of skill."

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