The Statue of Liberty is smiling once again outside Newark's Sparta restaurant since the downtown staple has reopened.

The Statue of Liberty is smiling once again outside Newark's Sparta restaurant since the downtown staple has reopened.

"I love this place and I love this town," said new manager David Bryant.

David Bryant and Robert Gordon will operate the business, which was purchased recently by Bryant's family.

Bryant said after visiting the restaurant to help clean, he saw a great opportunity and decided he and Gordon needed a new business venture.

"To me, this looks like a mini -Short North ready to explode, with a lot of businesses and a lot of opportunity," Bryant said, comparing Newark to one of Columbus's popular art and food destinations.

The restaurant did a soft opening Nov. 26, and Bryant gladly greeted people during the annual lighting of the Licking County Courthouse on Nov. 28.

He said the restaurant is open Monday and Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. before starting regular hours Dec. 3: 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily.

Bryant said he felt the area needed a nice breakfast place and he hopes the area can support lunch and dinner every day also.

Chef Michael Turk was finishing menu options last week, completing the breakfast menu for this week's unveiling. Bryant said Turk is a culinary school graduate who worked for upscale restaurants in Columbus before coming to Newark.

He said the menu will include appetizers and pizza, with dinners ranging from lemon chicken and pasta, to steaks and hamburgers.

Bryant's background is in restaurants, having started working in Columbus as a bus boy, moving into fast food and then on to more upscale restaurant work, before bartending. Gordon also has a food service background, working in restaurant kitchens for the last 10 years.

Gordon will manage the restaurant and Bryant will be there to greet guests and make sure they are welcomed to "their" Sparta.

"I will tell people, 'Welcome to your Sparta.' This place is bigger than me," Bryant joked.

The restaurant has a long history in Newark, having first opened in 1900 under owner Chris Baruxes.

Named after Sparta, Greece, the restaurant moved into the current three-story brick building at 16 W. Main St. in 1949 and was known for its homemade candy for years.

The restaurant underwent many changes and had many owners in the last few years, removing the candy sales and adding a liquor permit.

Bryant said he cleaned and added some new paint, but the building has remained much the same.

"I'm not reinventing the wheel, I'm just spinning it in the right direction," Bryant said.

Virginia Patterson, a member of the Downtown Newark Association, said it will be good for the area to have Sparta open again.

"They seem very enthusiastic," she said of the new owners. "They want to keep the name and said they want to have a clean place with good food."

Bryant's hope is that he can keep the Statue of Liberty smiling for guests 365 days a year.

"Sundays I guess we'll be the only place open around here," he said. "We'll just have to see how it goes."