The legalistic daytime restaurant Cafe Barrister, which replaced Jeanne's Bistro in downtown Bradenton, opened this week.
Bill Costanzo and Greg Gort, partners who own and operate the cafe, didn't have to do much redecorating or remodeling because the cafe setting left by Jeanne's Bistro nicely matched what they needed for Cafe Barrister, 316 12th St. W. They took possession of the property in mid-December after closing Gorty's Eating Room in the Riverside Medical building and "opened quietly" last weekend.
Costanzo didn't want to change much of the former Jeanne's spot because he also enjoys the historical features of the building. Cafe
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Barrister's logo, legal scales set against a faded brick wall, was inspired by the 125-year-old wall in the back of the cafe.
"Since the models are so similar, it was easy moving in," Costanzo said.
Gort runs the kitchen at Cafe Barrister, just like he did at Gorty's Eating Room, a space that will be converted into medical offices.
Some of the Gorty's Eating Room items found their way onto the Cafe Barrister menu, but have such names as "the Barrister," "the Defendant," "the Prosecutor" and "the Judge."
Costanzo's wife also concocted some sandwiches and sauces to add to the menu. Or customers can "build your own case," aka, customize a sandwich. A variety of soups and salads, including Gorty's "soon-to-be-famous" chili, are available as well. Breakfast items are available until 11 a.m.
The cafe, open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, offers delivery, call ahead and dine-in. Costanzo encourages customers to call early for delivery orders; especially orders for an entire office or department.
Though the menu changed, Costanzo is sticking with the local coffees Jeanne's Bistro served. He's impressed by the flavor of coffees and the roasting process he found at Latitude 23.5° in Sarasota. He hopes to make other operational changes -- such as opening on weekend nights and inviting in live music guests -- after his staff "gets their feet wet" and the restaurant is running smoothly.
But so far, the atmosphere Costanzo hoped for in Cafe Barrister has already taken root with the two full-time employees Costanzo hired to wait tables and run the front counter.
Anna Villacorta and Michael Harrison, who goes by his last name, worked with Costanzo's daughter at the Smoothie King at University Parkway and Lockwood Ridge Road, and both wanted to work closer to their homes in Bradenton.
"It's the perfect location and I love the historical district in downtown Bradenton," Harrison said. "And we both always worked at corporate places. This is more of a 'home' feeling."
The "vibe" in growing downtown Bradenton attracted Costanzo to the area, too, and inspires him to become a part of Bradenton's growing younger scene.
"I want our street to become a destination," Costanzo said, explaining his vision for Cafe Barrister's future.
"During the day we have the business crowd and at night or on the weekend we have musicians and young people. This street is ready for it."
Janelle O'Dea, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter @jayohday.