In the late spring of 2012, a banner hung on outside the building at 323 Main St., proclaiming, "It's all true."
Almost a year later -- after a lengthy refurbishment -- that promise has been fulfilled: The long-awaited restaurant -- "323 Main," or simply, "323," mirroring its address -- opened Tuesday evening at a site that has been home to a long list of Westport dining establishments.
"We're a neighborhood restaurant," said Stasko, who is 323 Main's managing partner and formerly managed Peter's Market and Cobb's Mill Inn in Weston. "We want people to be able to come in and enjoy themselves in a comfortable environment and relaxing atmosphere."
Stasko described the 323 menu as "American cuisine," including staples such as "steakhouse-quality" steaks, seafood and poultry.
During its first two weeks, 323 will serve only dinner, but it will then offer lunch as well, Stasko said. The restaurant will operate seven days a week and feature a brunch menu Sundays.
The restaurant seats approximately 95 patrons, including about 25 at its bar. To accommodate that clientele, 323 will operate with about 30 employees.
323 Main stands at the intersection of Main and Canal streets, a locale that has housed several popular restaurants over the last few decades. Covering about 2,200 square feet, 323 succeeds Bogey's Grille & Tap Room which closed in late August 2011 after a 17-year run Other predecessors at the site include Oliver's, which served barbecue-focused fare; Tidewater Seafood, and a French restaurant, Maud Chez Elle.
After taking over the 323 Main St. building in February 2012, the new owners soon initiated a major interior renovation. During that time, they switched general contractors and expanded their vision for the establishment, which pushed back its opening date, Stasko said.
"We were just going to be a neighborhood bar before; it's a little different now," Stasko added. "We changed gears."
Billy Rowe, owner of the Nantucket, Mass.-based Nantucket Wood Carving and 323's designer and current general contractor, described the restaurant's decor as "rustic maritime on a casual level."
"It's not yachty martime and it's not whaling maritime," added Rowe. "It's kind of different with the wide wainscoting. And you have the comforts of the fireplace and there's a lot of openness. It's comfortable here, not stuffy."
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