When Steven Prokop learned that Acqua Ristorante Mediterraneo on Main Street had successfully applied for a pop-out cafÃ© overlooking the Saugatuck River, he felt confident that his new restaurant, Cru, would be able to tap into Westport's al fresco dining trend, too.
"Since Acqua is right down the road from us, they got approved, so we felt confident," Prokop said. "You just feel with what is going on in Westport, it looks like they want more restaurants to come in."
Prokop, who also owns Cuvee restaurant in West Hartford, said the waterfront was a significant factor in choosing the location of his second restaurant, which is set to open around June 1. The restaurant will be located in the basement of the Gap building at 125 Main St., with access from the Parker-Harding Plaza lot.
"Having the river right there and being able to do outdoor seating in the summer is going to be great for us because we don't have the room up in West Hartford to do it," Prokop said.
Cru and Bobby Q's Barbecue & Grill on Main Street were awarded permits for pop-out dining sections by the Board of Selectmen on May 15. Four restaurants now have these permits allowing seasonal outdoor dining in public parking spots, including Acqua and La Villa Trattoria on Bay Street.
Cru's pop-out plans call for using three parking spaces in the Parker-Harding lot between the Saugatuck River and the western side of the restaurant.
Prokop described Cru as "lounge-y, dimly lit."
The furniture will include sofas and love seats in a private area separated by curtains, and traditional chairs and tables in a main dining room. The interior will seat about 80 people.
Prokop said the cuisine will include American, Mediterranean and Pacific dishes. Small plates will cost $8-13 and most entrees will cost $15-$24. A $30 tail-and-tenderloin dish will be the most expensive item on the menu.
The restaurant's bar will feature 80 specialty drinks, including martinis, champagne cocktails and rocks cocktails.
"We'll definitely be a destination bar," Prokop said.
He said the pop-out patio area should open a week or so after the main restaurant opens.
The pop-out season runs from April 1 to Nov. 1, with the seating areas reverting to street parking during the winter months. The outdoor dining areas are allowed to be open Sunday to Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to midnight.