Tucci’s California Bistro is expected to open this week after extensive renovations.
The Historic Dublin restaurant at 35 N. High St. has been closed for about three weeks and owner Craig Barnum said returning customers might not recognize the place when it tentatively reopens at 4 p.m. April 5.
“It’s pretty dramatic,” he said. “We’re going for more fine dining.”
In the dining room, lighting, a new white marble bar and new seating are among the changes.
“One of the challenges we had was the atmosphere of the restaurant was comfortable and bistro style,” Barnum said.
“The tables were in rows. One of the challenges I had with the restaurant was it lacked intimacy of a fine dining atmosphere you need in a restaurant like that,” he said.
Better lighting was added along with two-person booths in the bar and many tables were removed from the dining room.
“In the dining room we went with a lot more booths,” Barnum said.
Ceiling tiles that help with the acoustics were also installed in the dining room, as was a new roof for the former house that was built in the 1940s.
On the menu customers will also notice something different.
“We removed the pizza oven,” Barnum said. “We’re not going to be serving pizzas anymore.
“When we reopen, we’ll be heavy on fresh fish, pasta and steaks,” Barnum said.
Three new cuts of steaks have been added to the menu, lending the restaurant options from a traditional steak house.
One of the biggest renovations for Tucci’s, however, might not be immediately recognized by customers.
“One of the major things was to change the kitchen,” Barnum said.
“Over the last few years the patio has gotten popular.” he said
The kitchen often scrambled to keep up with demand from the 100-seat patio, he said.
“The kitchen was undermanned, there was not enough equipment, it wasn’t big enough,” Barnum said.
“We put in new equipment, a new hood, a better prep area and line to handle the business we do from May to October.”
New signs will also be installed at the back of the building where customers enter from the Darby Street parking lot and along High Street.
The changes, Barnum said, will help Tucci’s adapt to the transformation coming to Historic Dublin through the Bridge Street District that seeks to bring a more-dense, walkable, urban-style development in Dublin’s core.
“Tucci’s is in the middle of the development and we wanted to position ourselves and put money into it to be one of a kind for the foreseeable future,” Barnum said.