Real Seafood Co. completes renovation work, adds seatsWritten by John Krudy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo’s Real Seafood Co. recently finished a renovation of its bar and dining room, which the restaurant’s ownership said would refresh the eatery’s interior and maintain its business into summer.
“Everybody has some issues with the economy,” said Michael Gibbons, president of MainStreet Ventures, which owns and operates Real Seafood and 14 other restaurants across the country. “You can sit back and bemoan it, or you can be better, work harder and be ready for it.”
The restaurant, which sits in the center of The Docks complex on the east side of the Maumee River, hasn’t been renovated in nine years. Most restaurants, Gibbons said, do it every six.
“They need it,” he said. “Our business has been good, and we want to make sure it stays that way.”
The renovation was ambitious, especially given its short time frame. The restaurant closed the evening of May 11 and had all renovations completed in time for dinner May 15.
“We’re starting to get very busy; we’re anxious to get it done,” said Kelly Becker, general manager, while renovation work was being conducted. Becker said the company is hiring about 40 extra employees for summer.
“It hits us around Memorial Day,” she said. “Summer is the time down here.”
Gibbons and Becker fit many changes into the four-day project, and the improvements were both practical and aesthetic. Instead of linoleum, lines of dark and light wood now floor the bar, meant to evoke the deck of an old ship. There are new tiles in the expanded entrance, and the piano has been moved into the back corner of the bar.
“It’s going to give it more of a piano bar atmosphere,” Becker said. “We think it will be better for the guests.”
Becker said the restaurant will introduce a new menu of successful specials, and the bar will have its own menu of sandwiches and appetizers. The main dining room will gain a private seating area and new upholstery in the booths.
But the trademark wooden salmon sculpture on the south wall will stay.
This effort to keep Real Seafood ready for business hasn’t come cheap.
“It’s cost us $200,000,” Gibbons said. “Or, as I say, $50,000 a day.”
And the spending isn’t over yet. Gibbons said he plans to add a new spiral staircase that will allow dining on the mezzanine overlooking the river. The mezzanine hasn’t previously been open, and it will make room for another 50 diners.
Becker said she hasn’t noticed any slowdown in business.
“In fact, it’s been up a little,” she said. “We have a great niche of regulars and we see them all the time.”
Gibbons stressed that active marketing is the key to commercial success.
“If fewer people are going to go out for dinner, then we’re going to be the place they go to,” he said.
Gibbons said MainStreet Ventures employs 200 employees in Toledo, with other restaurants at Zia’s in The Docks and Ciao! in Sylvania.
Real Seafood will employ 125 employees this summer.
On the web visit www.msventures.com and click on links for more.