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Wegmans Food Market’s newest restaurant, Next Door Bar & Grill opens its doors today in Pittsford, N.Y. To staff the new casual-dining concept, the crew from Tastings, Wegmans’ inaugural full-service restaurant, which opened in August 2002 and closed last month, is moving to the other side of Monroe Avenue, including general manager Alex Berentzen, executive chef Chris Brandt and sushi chef Satoshi Yamaguchi.
“Next Door Bar & Grill is very much a departure from Tastings,” noted Berentzen. “It’s a new direction that’s more informal and laid-back.” Among the new restaurant’s features are a spacious, horseshoe-shaped bar with a roomy adjacent lounge; a large main dining area decorated with unique artwork and serving meals influenced by French, Italian, New American and Asian (primarilu Japanese) cuisines; the Robata Grill and Sushi Bar, where food is prepared in full view of guests; four rooms for private parties, including the Test Kitchen, which is used by Wegmans as an educational and recipe-development space; and a wide assortment of craft beers, fine wines and specialty drinks.
“We set out to create a restaurant that would be very approachable, comfortable, easy to love, and would inspire guests to relax and have fun,” explained Stency Wegman, the restaurant’s interior designer. “It’s the kind of restaurant where you’ll fit right in whether you’re in a pair of jeans or a business suit.”
Total seating at Next Door Bar & Grill is about 270, including the bar, lounge and private rooms; an outdoor patio seats an additional 44 patrons. According to the Rochester, N.Y. Democrat & Chronicle, Next Door is twice the size of Tastings. The new restaurant will be open every day.
Berentzen told the newspaper that while business was better than ever at Tastings, the new restaurant would build on the successes of older concept, offering new approaches to food, service and the overall dining experience.
Rochester-based Wegmans operates 75 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.