Back in June, Michelle and Steve Gelman shuttered their eponymous restaurant at 2911 West 38th Avenue and reopened the space a month later as Boston Fish Shack, a New England-influenced joint that turns out everything from seafood chowder to lobster rolls.
And now that restaurant is up for sublease while the Gelmans concentrate on Botto Italian Grill, an upscale Northern Italian restaurant that will open in early December at 4401 Tejon Street.
"We have a lot of loyal customers -- more than 80 percent of our customers are repeat customers -- but it's been difficult to get the attention of people who drive by on 38th and see that we're in a strip mall, and honestly, running two restaurant is difficult, and we need to concentrate on the new restaurant," says Steve.
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"We're looking to consolidate our life," echoes his wife, Michelle, whose brother, Thomas Connolly, is the current chef at Boston Fish Shack and will head up the kitchen at Botto. "We bought the other building, and we see our future there," she says of the 180-seat space, which will be part lounge and bar, part dining room and part private dining quarters with modular rooms.
The menu, she notes, will spotlight dishes from the northwest region of Italy and include a half-dozen pastas, most of which will be made in-house; game entrees, including rabbit; and a board of small plates. "It will be a menu that's versatile and approachable, but also conducive to special occasions," says Michelle.
In the meantime, Boston Fish Shack, which the Gelmans are willing to sublease for $60,000, inclusive of equipment and leasehold improvements, is still swimming. And starting next weekend, a New England-style "Beantown" brunch menu, touting Cape Cod fish cakes and a raw-bar selection, will be added to the lineup on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
"We're planning to stay open until we find new owners," says Steve. If you're interested in subleasing the space, call 303-458-0300.