After seven long months of wondering about the future of their favorite watering hole, fans of Easton's Black & Blue have a reason to celebrate -- and breathe a sigh of relief.
The restaurant's new managers said Wednesday they are hoping for a mid-July soft reopening for the popular West Ward restaurant.
Marcel Bedoya and Tara Perruso said they plan to keep the Tuesday-Saturday business hours the same, at least initially. Perruso and Marcel said they have the full support and blessing of owners Larry Porter and Kelly-Jo Ditze.
"We really want to embrace our local community," Perruso said. "It's important for us to up our game by bringing in rare beers, interesting wines and trendy cocktails. But we are very interested in keeping things simple, high-quallity, but still very approachable."
Bedoya and Perruso said they are hoping to bring back the local buzz that has been missing in the neighborhood since Black & Blue abruptly closed in January. "I think it's important to have our presence back in the West Ward and have a place for locals here to go and elevate the community on this end of Easton, in addition to what's happening in the circle, and to extend the circle, if you will," Perruso said. "And i'm really excited about that."
The new managers said their intention is to honor the spirit and legacy of Black & Blue's past while looking to the future by bringing their own personal touches to the (kitchen) table, including an expanded wine selection and specialty drinks. They also plan to keep a variety of vegan options on the menu.
The "King Room" will remain in place for larger gatherings. For those who want to sit and sip, a redesigned lounge area has also been set up adjacent to the bar. There will be live music on Friday nights and open mic night will be held every other Thursday.
"We're trying to stay true to the comfort food people got when they came to Black & Blue, but with a special twist," Perruso said. "It's going to have the same feel but it's not going to be exactly the same because we don't want it to be, also because it can't be because we have a new staff. But we're embracing those changes and we hope people will feel the same way."
Bedoya is no stranger to the restaurant industry. He is the co-owner of Easton eateries Terra Cafe and Tierra de Fuego. Perruso's background includes a nearly three-year stint with Weyerbacher Brewing Company and a degree in food, culture and communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy.
"It already feels like a family and I already feel like (we're) giving people a gift they've been waiting to open," Perruso said. "Everybody is very concerned and inquisitive about the closing and the opening and the future and so forth, and so supportive, and anxious for them to get their local back."
Porter -- who also co-owns Porters' Pub -- and Ditze opened Black & Blue in 2011. (Ditze owned the former Which Brew bar, which closed in 2008.) The restaurant quickly developed a significant following and became known for its Gothic-inspired ambience and craft beer selection. The restaurant was one of three points in what would become known as the "Beermuda Triangle," along with Porters' Pub and Two Rivers Brewing Company.
"We've both been talking about this for a while with Larry and Kelly and finally got to the point where we're at now. We used to come here as customers. Everybody loved this place," Bedoya said. "Every time (we) have a conversation with someobdy and you're telling them 'Hey, we're reopening Black & Blue,' the faces on the people are 'Ahh! I can't wait for this place to open!'. I feel like there are a lot of places opening but this is Easton's place. We all somehow have a special attachment to this place and that's the feeling I have... It belongs to the town."
Bedoya promised a "perfect package" dining experience for customers. "You're going to come to a place where you're not going to be stuck into this or that style," he said. "It's going to be everything inclusive with perfect service, good food and good prices."
Black & Blue is located at 683 Walnut St.