The large, old Fontana space Downtown is going to have new life as a sushi restaurant.
Teddy Stevens, a restaurant business neophyte, intends to open
T. Sushi at 251 State St., in January. He's shooting for a New Year's Eve opening, but realizes that's ambitious given the extensive renovations involved.
"It's going to be a higher-end sushi restaurant," said Stevens, who lives in Middleton.
The restaurant and bar, filling the main level, will have a contemporary Asian design, "kind of trendy, modern," he said.
Stevens said he plans to use the upper and lower levels for offices and storage.
"We're just going to open up the main level and play it by ear and see how the business takes off," he said.
The main level has approximately 3,200 square feet, but after putting in a bar and rest rooms, there will be about 2,000 to use for dining, he said. He has no plans for a full kitchen since he won't be serving hot foods.
Steve Shulfer of Shulfer Architects in Middleton, which is handling the interior design, called it an aggressive schedule for design, construction and city approvals.
"The goal is to provide opportunities for patrons to experience the Madison culture in a free-flowing and open plan, while allowing excellent sight lines to the vibrant street activity on this prominent Downtown corner," Shulfer said.
The "T" in T. Sushi stands for Teddy. Stevens said he came up with about 25 names before making his decision.
"Let's just call it T. Sushi and get it over with," he said.
Stevens doesn't have a restaurant background, but said he has friends and family who are in the restaurant and bar business.
"It's something I've been interested in doing for a really long time and I got the opportunity so I just kind of went for it," he said, adding that he noticed the building was for lease and he and landlord Harold Langhammer were able to come to terms.
Stevens is an online broker of vintage muscle cars, which he has sold domestically and internationally for 12 years.
He's hired two sushi chefs, one from San Francisco and the other from New Glarus, he said.
While he's new to the restaurant business, he has a great love of sushi.
"That's why I decided to open up my own restaurant," he said.
On whether Downtown Madison has enough sushi restaurants — there are three already on State Street alone — Stevens said.
"Enough? I wouldn't think so to be honest with you," he said.
Besides a sushi bar, Stevens plans on installing a large martini bar from which to serve "higher-end trendy martinis."
LA JOYA REPLACES PAN & PAN
Maria Chavez, a former manager at Pan & Pan Mexican bakery and restaurant that opened two years ago in the former Popeye's location at 3737 Milwaukee St., recently bought the business.
She renamed it La Joya Mexican Restaurant and plans to offer a new menu Jan. 1, manager Carlos Martinez said.
The restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner, will still carry the tacos, tortas, quesadillas and burritos it always has, but the new menu will feature lamb, pork, steak, mole and chicken dishes and daily specials, Martinez said.