Within a few weeks, the Riverview Restaurant is scheduled to open at the site of the landmark Café Gallery off the banks of the Delaware River in Burlington City.
The owner, Adrian Thomas, an Australian-born vintner, said he and a partner invested $2.5 million to purchase and upgrade the two-story building on High Street. The new restaurant will offer fresh, organic artisanal foods and roast its own coffee.
Thomas, of New Hope, and his partner purchased the popular Café Gallery for $750,000 from two teachers and their business associate in 2013 and soon announced plans to expand its seating capacity and to modernize it. Judging by lively activity on the Riverview Restaurant's Facebook Page, anticipation for the new eatery is high.
Thomas, a former cardiologist who owns three restaurants outside London and a stake in an Australian vineyard, dished about his new venture:
Question: When do you expect to open?
Answer: We have gotten a certificate of occupancy and all of the renovations are done. We're in the last stages and are hiring people. ... It could be at the end of the month or early next month.
Q: How many employees are you hiring?
A: We're starting with 10 to 15 people and expect to eventually have 25 by the end of the year. We're looking for full-time and part-time people, from hostesses to servers, bartenders, and dishwashers. We have been overwhelmed with the response.
Q: Have you found a chef?
A: Our theme will be seasonal, modern American dining and we are looking for a head chef.
Q: How many people will the restaurant seat?
A: In the dining room there will be about 110, with about 30 around the bar and 30 high-tops. Upstairs will be another 100 seats. When the patio opens in the spring there will be seats for 50 more people.
Q: How much did the upgrade cost?
A: The entire project was about $2.5 million, including the purchase. We had to put on a new roof, install all new mechanical, wiring and plumbing, new floors, new kitchens, and we did foundation work to reinforce the building.
Q: What are your hopes for the new restaurant?
A: We want to be back to being a landmark venue in Burlington and will offer a higher-quality bar and dining experience. It's a unique venue on the river. We also want people to come for special events and functions.
Q: What will be very new?
A: We've been focusing on growing our coffee business and will roast coffee for wholesale and retail. We are keeping the name of it secret but will fully produce it in Burlington and it will reflect the history of Burlington.
Q: Are you concerned that an apartment complex that is proposed on the empty lot between your building and the Delaware River may block your view?
A: We will maintain a river view but undoubtedly we will lose some of our view. We are not sure of the impact. It's supposed to be low-profile towering. ... We're in favor of progress but it is a historical town and we hope it fits in with the town.
Q: Where will you get the fresh, organic, sustainable food for your restaurant?