Insiders tell Insider Louisville that at least three new restaurants are in the planning stage for the NuLu district along East Market Street, all scheduled to open early next year.
Perhaps the most ambitious is Decca, a restaurant that will be NuLu’s gain, San Francisco’s loss.
Decca core management team is Chad and Amy Sheffield, who are brother and sister, and Chad Sheffield’s significant other, Kelsey Norris. All are from the area – the Sheffields from Louisville and Norris from Jasper, Ind.
But all three lived in That City By The Bay-ee-ayh (we’ve always wanted to work that into a story) for years until June, when they returned to do Decca.
“There’s no way we could do this in San Francisco,” Amy Sheffield said, with its astronomical leases and costs. But Chad Sheffield said what is practical is bringing some of the San Francisco scene to more affordable Louisville.
Decca will be a restaurant/bar/catering operation, but will incorporate aspects of an art gallery and performance space.
To do all that, they’re recruiting S.F.-based talent to help with the project, the group said. They include consultant Clay Reynolds, who oversees the wine and beverage programs at The Moss Room. Tamara Albaitis will move from COCO500 in San Francisco to run Decca’s bar operations.
Designer Charles Gabhart, based in Jasper, is the designer for Decca, and the Sheffields and Norris say Gabhart is starting with a blank slate.
The building at 812 E. Market, which was built about 1875 as a tailor’s shop. In 1925, it housed a Quaker grocery.
The building in 2010 is a start-over project. “What we’re working in is a complete shell,” Chad Sheffield said. “A complete shell. It’s a ground-up project.”
In a way, that’s good because it gives the group a lot more latitude to create a distinctive space, “and not what someone else thought would work in a restaurant,” Norris said.
The plan calls for the first floor to be the main dining area and bar, with about 1,000 square feet of space for about 50 people. In warm weather, Decca will have another 30 to 40 seats on an outside patio on the east side of the building.
A second floor will be part art gallery, party overflow and dining space, Chad Sheffield said.
The group is working to get permission from Metro Building Codes and Regulations officials to use the basement for seating space, “but it’s a long process to get permits,” he said.
The Sheffields and Norris all have restaurant experience. Amy Sheffield will run operations and catering, with her brother handling the front of the house.
The menu will be “modern American,” with an emphasis on local/seasonal foods. The group says Decca will be middle market in price, with an average customer tab of about $25, comparable to the nearby Mayan Cafe directly across the the street and 732 Social just west of Decca.
The Sheffield/Norris consortium plans to start interviewing staff in January, followed by a soft opening in April.
So far, there have been a few renovation complications, said Norris and the Sheffields.
Norris said the most surprising part of the project has been the level of encouragement the group received as they pondered doing the project.
“I expected people to say, ‘You’re crazy for wanting to be in the restaurant business,’ ” Norris said. “But we’ve gotten a lot more support than people telling us we’re crazy.”
The deal: Decca is planned at 812 E. Market in one of the complex of buildings that used to be part of the Wayside Christian Mission.
Kelsey Norris, her mother Robin Norris and her brother Reid Norris, along with Chad Sheffield and Amy Sheffield, formed Decca LLC one month ago when the partnership bought the NuLu property.
They declined to say how much the group will invest to create Decca.
Wayside sold the 10-building cluster in 2008 for $5 million to Louisville-base entertainment executive and investor Gill Holland, who led a group of investors in project to redefine the area into the NuLu arts and entertainment district.
That name: Decca is a salute to Decca Records, the long-lived music label that was once home to the Rolling Stones, but more famously turned down the Beatles.
Also coming to East Market Street: Harvest Restaurant is Ivor Chodkowski’s project planned at 624 E. Main Street in the now-vacant offices of FB3, the defunct business incubator. See the Harvest Facebook page here.
Already open on East Market: