NEWBURYPORT – Months of anticipation over the opening of the city’s newest waterfront restaurant is expected to end Monday when Tuscan Sea Grill opens its doors.
Part of the Tuscan Brands family, Tuscan Sea Grill is owned by Lawrence native Joe Faro and is located at 54 Merrimac St., former home of the Black Cow Tap & Grill.
“We can’t wait to bring Tuscan Brands to another part of the Merrimack Valley,” said Faro, Tuscan Brands’ CEO, in a statement. “This restaurant will be a new concept for us, curated just for Newburyport.”
Mark Iannuccillo, vice president of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said his organization is thrilled to have such a high-profile restaurant to attract diners. The space was vacated when the Black Cow moved into the newly renovated brick building at 40 Merrimac St.
Speaking of Tuscan Sea Grill’s opening, Iannuccillo said, “I think it’s going to be a huge draw.”
The seating capacity for indoor and outdoor dining would be under 125, half of what was originally planned. General manager Cory Heagarty said while many tables inside will be blocked off because of social distancing requirements, he is aiming for between 80 and 90 diners inside.
“Everybody will be six feet apart,” Heagarty said.
In June, the state announced indoor dining would be allowed as long as restaurants ensured social distancing and followed several protocols and requirements. Heagarty said all those requirements will be met.
Faro called the restaurant a “special destination” considering its waterfront location at the end of the downtown boardwalk and its ocean-inspired interior design.
“Given Tuscan’s DNA of artisan Italian cuisine and the surroundings of our newest restaurant, our focus will be coastal Italian creations,” Faro said.
Those creations, according to Faro, will feature local seafood, blending his Sicilian heritage with his New England roots.
The restaurant will also feature scratch-made Italian classics, such as pasta and pizza, that regional diners have been enjoying at Faro’s Tuscan Kitchen and Tuscan Market locations for years.
Heagarty said the restaurant has hired 75 staff members but that number will likely rise soon.
“We’re still hiring, though,” Heagarty said. “We’d like to get up to 100.”
Asked about managing Newburyport’s newest waterfront restaurant, Heagarty said it is “an honor” to be part of the Faro family and looked forward to inviting the community into what he called a family restaurant.
“The restaurant itself feels like a home, it’s very hospitable,” Heagarty said, adding that the restaurant is looking toward building a relationship with the community and creating an experience people want to relive daily.
Tuscan Sea Grill joins the growing list of restaurants and markets in the Tuscan Brands family. There are three Tuscan Kitchen locations — Boston, Burlington and Salem, New Hampshire — and two Tuscan Market locations in Salem, New Hampshire, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Tuscan Sea Grill will also feature a raw bar, an extensive wine list, and a collection of cocktails, according to Faro.
The restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner, with brunch served on Saturday and Sunday. The hours are: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Faro, the son of Italian immigrants, started working in his parents’ bakery at a young age, eventually enrolling as a student at the University of New Hampshire.
In an entrepreneurship class, Faro came up with a business idea called Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta & Sauces. Years later, the business that started as a school project was purchased by the world’s largest food company, Nestle, in 2006.
For more information on Tuscan Brands, including its restaurants, markets, cooking classes and catering programs, visit www.tuscanbrands.com.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.