While 100 North Laura will celebrate building tenant CenterState Bank’s grand opening Downtown this afternoon, Jonathan Insetta’s restaurant will not be ready for its own debut.
The Bellwether restaurant, on the ground floor facing Forsyth Street, could open the first week in May, he said, although it might be firing up the kitchen today for catering.
Insetta, 38, is president of Black Sheep Restaurant Group Inc. Orsay is in Avondale, Black Sheep Restaurant is in Five Points and BLK SHP operates in Intuition Ale Works near the sports complex.
Bellwether is a complete makeover of the space at 100 N. Laura St. that previously was occupied by Midtown Deli.
The restaurant is Insetta’s return Downtown, where his group operated Chew for six years until it closed in 2012.
The key this time is to fine-tune the formula that works Downtown when it comes to food, prices, efficiency and hours.
For example, Bellwether’s menu will be like Black Sheep’s, but at a lower price point, he said.
The 120-seat Bellwether will offer counter service and full-service, although both will deliver the food to the table.
Counter service is more conducive to busy lunch hours, while table service might be more appropriate for business lunches. There’s also a private dining area that can seat 40, as well as a new patio area for street-side dining.
Hours will adapt to demand, but might start with lunch from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday and brunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Dinner is envisioned but hasn’t been scheduled.
Bellwether features a full bar. Happy hour could start at 4-5 p.m. and run until at least 7:30 p.m., Insetta said.
Ashley Land is front-of-house manager and Kerri Rogers is the chef. There also is catering and delivery, possibly by a small customized golf cart.
Bellwether will start with 20 employees Monday-Friday.
“This is going to be one of the hardest things we’ve done,” Insetta said.
The city approved tenant build-out for 4,700 square feet of space in July for almost $795,500.
The interior is almost completed, decorated in pine and subway tile with warm tones. Sweetwater Restoration is the contractor and Design Cooperative was the architect.
The bellwetherjax.com website calls Bellwether a “casual yet sophisticated restaurant” that “will offer an eclectic mix of timeless fare for lunch and dinner.”
The menu includes snacks, like arancini; soups and salads; sandwiches; burgers that include a vegetarian beet burger; and lunch entrees such as wild Georgia shrimp and grits.
Insetta did not have prices determined on a sample menu Wednesday, although he said they will be less than at Black Sheep, where sandwiches run $9-14 and entrees are $13 and up. Black Sheep opens for lunch, dinner and brunch.
At Orsay, open for brunch and dinner, prices are somewhat higher. Dinner entrees run $19-$39.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Insetta and business partner Allan DeVault were completing the details of Bellwether for its grand opening. Just not today.