Bistro 1860, the upscale wine bar that closed in November, won’t sit empty for long.
Jason McCollum and Aenith Sananikone-McCollum, the owners of Chik’n & Mi, plan to convert the old 1860s farmhouse located at 1860 Mellwood Ave. to a high-end seafood concept and open by the end of May.
The planned name of the restaurant is Hearth on Mellwood.
Currently, renovations are ongoing inside, with a pair of picture windows being added to an interior wall to help open up a small back room.
In addition, the Cruvinet wine dispensing system that had been in place going back to the early 2000s, when the restaurant was called L&N Wine Bar, has been removed.
“That thing was a dinosaur,” Jason McCollum says.
The bar will still offer several wines by the glass and bottle, he adds, along with craft beer and cocktails.
New vinyl floors will be laid, and while the exposed brick isn’t going anywhere, expect some modern art to help offset the rustic feel. The kitchen will undergo a remodel to change the flow, and the McCollums are leasing a catering kitchen just north of the building.
Long-term plans include remodeling the little-used upstairs of the roughly 2,000-square-foot structure. Short-term, Jason McCollum says, that space would be used for private events. At some point, he adds, it may become a lounge area.
McCollum says $15,000 will be spent to repaint the exterior, changing it from the bright, gold and black it has long been as Bistro 1860 to beige and sage green. Three coats will be needed to offset the current colors.
The menu will consist of mostly small plates with a focus on seafood, McCollum says, to go with a “homey, relaxed” atmosphere. Think tartare, oysters and crudo — light, fresh fare. He also says the menu will be “veggie-centric,” with as much local sourcing as possible. Seafood will be sourced from both the East and West coasts.
The name comes in part because of the warm vibe inside the space, but it also was influenced by the fact the old house has 10 fireplaces.
And McCollum says Hearth on Mellwood won’t interfere with the couple’s other restaurant, adding, “I have big plans for Chik’n & Mi.”
He declined to reveal the total investment in the space, which is being rented from owner Doug Wheeler, but does say, “It will require a bit of an investment … if you want to make a statement. It’s what the building deserves, too.”
McCollum says he and Aenith were only halfway looking to open another restaurant at this time, but when the location became available, the temptation was too great.
“I think we’re the right people for the spot,” he says. “I think we’ll give the place what it needs.”
Plus, trying something else helps get McCollum back to his roots as a chef.
“This will get me back in the kitchen and doing what I love,” he says. “I love my restaurant, but sometimes the food doesn’t allow me to do what I like to do.”
This story has been updated with the correct spelling of McCollum.