Tuscan restaurant will open on Newburyport waterfront, but with half the seats

BRYAN EATON/Staff photoThe old site of the Black Cow restaurant on Newburyport's waterfront is being renovated for its transformation into a Tuscan restaurant. 

NEWBURYPORT — A new Tuscan-themed restaurant planned for the city’s waterfront is eyeing a delayed midsummer opening with about half of its original seating capacity.

Tuscan Brands, which runs several Tuscan Kitchen and Tuscan Market locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, hasn’t disclosed the name of its Newburyport “concept,” which is under construction at 54 Merrimac St., the former waterfront site of the Black Cow restaurant.

Amy Scarpello, the company’s director of training and marketing, previously told The Daily News that the Newburyport location will be heavily focused on local seafood dishes, offering a raw bar and the company’s hallmark menu options, including pasta made scratch, artisan breads and Neapolitan-style pizza.

While the new restaurant was originally scheduled to open this spring, the COVID-19 pandemic led to construction delays that have led Tuscan Brands to push back the opening until “sometime in July or August,” according to Edwin Santana, the company’s director of sales and marketing.

Santana said the restaurant’s indoor and outdoor seating capacities will be reduced from a planned 250 people to “under 125” as a social distancing measure. He also said there will also be “a huge emphasis on takeout” and other ways the staff will monitor safety.

“One thing that has changed from all of this internally is how people process transactions, handle menus, spacing out tables, and maximizing the patio to be a safe environment," Santana said.

Still, he said the company will keep its blueprint intact for the site despite the setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re still thriving and moving forward with our plans," he said. "We’re not going to let the financial hits from our other locations impact the design decisions we made when we first wanted to build this restaurant.”

The Black Cow moved out of the New England Development-owned building in 2018 and relocated a short distance away at 40 Merrimac St.

Tuscan Brands was founded by Joe Faro, a New Hampshire resident and Lawrence native who is now the company CEO and “chief food tester,” according to the company website.

Santana noted that Newburyport is a “sentimental spot” for Faro and that the company plans on taking special care with its addition to the waterfront.

“To give him anything less would really do a disservice to the community’s friends and family from that area,” Santana said.

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