Well known European-styled bistro, Bistro Sofia, on Water Street has closed.
The name has been purchased by St. John’s business owner and hotelier John Franklin of the Franklin Hotel. Franklin has been a business partner of Bistro Sofia’s owners, chefs Gregory Bersinski and Tony Velinov, who also operate Black Sea Restaurant in the Franklin Hotel.
Franklin says he and the chefs intend to retain Bistro Sofia and more importantly its menu, as part of Black Sea Restaurant at the Franklin.
“The menu they were doing at Bistro Sofia is now going to be done here,” explained Franklin, “and we’re going to have a Bistro Sofia lunch and we’re going have a Black Sea evening.”
He went on to say that extra coffee equipment is being acquired while Black Sea and its bar will be reformatted and furnished with new tables and chairs to create a new version of two merged restaurants.
Franklin says the move is partly meant to create some of the food choices in the east end of Water Street that are available in the west end — meaning the waterfront restaurant chains, Starbucks and the imminent Boston Pizza franchise.
“Greg’s famous sandwiches at the bistro are going to be available at Black Sea almost immediately. It may take us a couple of days just to work everything up, but almost immediately.”
The move will not be a surprise to industry watchers. Apart from a downturn in the economy, recent property tax increases — which, it is anticipated will be passed on to renters such as restaurant operators — have caused many to consider other options.
This latest restructuring may be a sign of more to come.
The Happy Hummus Hut also announced its closure on a Facebook post Wednesday.
In a post on the business's Facebook page, owner Hlynn Kenny said, "I have developed yet another life-threatening allergy and cannot continue to operate the Hummus Hut. As much as I love my Hut and all of you, the air in my business is endangering my life, so I have to say goodbye."
The owners are looking for an interested buyer to take over the business.