Making a pig into a prince on Princess St.
February 18, 2011By JP Finlay
In a rare work of collaboration, two downtown landowners tore down a wall to make a restaurant project work. Literally.
Jim McFarland and Richard Reamer, the owners of 122 and 124 Princess St. respectively, knew that the best chance for a restaurant to succeed at their locations was to work together. Thus, the old Pink Pig restaurant will be combined with the old 007s bar and reopened as The Creole Café.
“It works,” McFarland said of opening a 6-foot wide walkthrough entrance from one building to the next.
“His building (126 Princess St.) is too small and we needed a kitchen. It’s the way people should cooperate.”
With the kitchen and bar space now joined, The Creole Café has 4,600 square feet to work with when it opens on Feb. 25. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a weekend brunch. There are also bigger plans to host live music, with tickets on sale for the first concert on March 28.
Christopher and Peter Koke will run the restaurant, and they have recruited New York chef Hugo Bua to design the menu. Bua, who served as an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America for years, owned the restaurant Cafe La Strada in Long Island that was featured in The New York Times.
“We wanted to add some Cajun spice,” Peter Koke said.
The initial plan for the restaurant is to keep price points low at breakfast and lunch to provide quality food at affordable prices. Over time, Koke expects the night and weekend business, which will be served by a large basement bar and dance area as well as a rear patio, to thrive.
“We will be an inter-connective, multi-media, art cooperative. The visual arts, the music arts, the culinary arts,” Koke said.
Koke also intends to showcase local and national artists. The current space at the corner of Second and Princess streets that serves as a parking lot will be converted into an open-air, live entertainment venue. The area totals almost 15,000 square feet once renovations are complete.
For McFarland, it’s all about collecting rent. The space has sat vacant since a Christmas Eve fire in 2009, and three arson investigations later, he is happy to have another tenant in the location.
“The fire was a nightmare,” McFarland said. “I believe in this concept.”