by PAUL SCHOTT
Restaurant changes reshaping Greenwich Avenue
GREENWICH — Dennis Lake scoured the tri-state area for several months for his next restaurant location. After looking in northern New Jersey, Westchester County, N.Y., and Stamford, his search ended in downtown Greenwich.
Lake plans to open his taco-focused La Taqueria, at 10 Greenwich Ave., by the end of this month. The 2,000-square-foot establishment will join several other new restaurants and a number of long-running eateries, highlighting the continued appeal of the town’s best-known street to restaurateurs.
“In Greenwich, the Avenue is the hub,” Lake, who co-founded the Glaze Teriyaki restaurant group and previously worked as a chef at the Rosa Mexicano chain in Manhattan, said in an interview. “For anyone looking to make a splash with a restaurant around here, you have a better chance of doing it if you’re on the Avenue.”
A few doors down, Miku Sushi recently opened at 68 Greenwich Ave.
“Miku Sushi and La Taqueria offer new choices at the top of the Avenue, which has previously been an underserved location,” said Marcia O’Kane, CEO and president of the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce. “Right now, there are numerous diverse choices for diners in central Greenwich, and all with various price points. This makes Greenwich Avenue even more vibrant and a go-to destination for dining.”
Down the street, Little Beet Table plans to open its newest restaurant this summer, at 376 Greenwich Ave. LBT is taking a renovated space formerly occupied by another restaurant, The National, which closed after it was damaged in a 2017 fire.
LBT, which features a gluten-free menu, also has restaurants in midtown Manhattan and Chicago.
“I’m personally excited to have been involved in the Little Beet Table transaction; I believe their offering — which is a sophisticated, but approachable vegetable-forward and gluten-free restaurant — will be embraced by the Greenwich community,” said Jessica Curtis, a senior vice president at commercial real estate firm CBRE. “The restaurant scene in Greenwich Avenue has been solidly performing for years. Many restaurants have been on the street for 10, 15 and, in some cases, nearly 20 years, which is rare in this business.”
Across the street, at 403 Greenwich Ave., Mediterranean-inspired South Bay is set to open soon. The new restaurant succeeds Sundown Saloon, which was a longtime staple on the Avenue.
South Bay has another restaurant, in New Haven, and shares the same ownership as the Harvest Wine Bar group, whose Greenwich restaurant is across the street, at 372 Greenwich Ave.
Meanwhile, some of the Avenue’s longest-running establishments are upgrading their spaces. Mediterraneo, which has a seafood-focused menu, renovated earlier this year at 366 Greenwich Ave.
“The restaurant is 25 years old and needed a face-lift,” said Ramze Zakka, proprietor of Z Hospitality Group, which owns Mediterraneo.
Z Hospitality also owns Terra Ristorante Italiano at 156 Greenwich Ave., and Eastend, at 409 Greenwich Ave., which serves a “Seasons of America” menu. The firm might open another restaurant, “on the upper part of the Ave,” according to Zakka.
“Greenwich Ave has been a perfect fit for us,” Zakka said. “The business district is vibrant on the Ave.”
Another mainstay on the street, the Portugal-influenced restaurant Douro has relocated up the street, from 363 Greenwich Ave., to 253 Greenwich Ave. Douro officials declined to comment for this article on their reasons for the move.
CBRE’s Curtis said that she expected downtown Greenwich to keep drawing more restaurants.
“I don’t think we see much competition on the real estate between Greenwich and Stamford — sometimes we even see duplication of concepts between the two,” Curtis said. “That being said, Stamford restaurants are generally catering to the business customer or the young millennial customer. Greenwich has the business customers, but also a very qualified, sophisticated, middle-age and empty-nester demographic.”
At La Taqueria, which is opening in a space that once housed a 2nd Time Around consignment store, Lake said that he was looking forward to working alongside other restaurateurs on the street.
“It’s good for all of us to have an area with a lot of restaurants,” Lake said. “We can collaborate and become a destination.”