Republik Eatery brings upscale bistro to city

General manager Laura Smith and chef Rudy Sison hope to have the new Republik Eatery & Lounge open for the June 5 First Friday Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Days before opening, Okan Zeytinoglu’s new downtown restaurant is coming together nicely.

There’s a glitch with the new bench seats and the outdoor signs have yet to go up for the Republik Eatery & Lounge, says general manager Laura Smith.

But most of the renovations at 216 Front St. are done and chef Rudy Sison has finished developing a menu Smith calls American bistro.

“It’s higher end with steaks, veal, pecan encrusted chicken, blue marlin and a sausage and shrimp jambalaya,” says Sison, who has worked in Sarnia and London area restaurants the past 12 years.

“I took a look at what’s popular in Sarnia and created an a la carte menu with sides that will be served family style,” he said.

Dinner entrees are priced in the $20 – $30 range at the Republik with sides an additional $8 each. The lunch menu has a number of sandwich and burger choices costing about $14 each.  Items like a lobster club or a blackened chicken sandwich area available in white wraps. There’s also a variety of flatbreads, salads and starters such as grilled calamari ($10) or bacon wrapped meatballs ($14).

“Our look is rustic chic,” Smith says, explaining the new barn board wall behind the bar and the earth tones throughout.  The historic building’s recessed windows have been made into wine cabinets and there is seating for 50.

The Republik is introducing a couple of new dining concepts to Sarnia, including a long table at the front of the restaurant large enough to seat 20.

It’s called a community table, said Smith, and can be booked for large parties or various groups can be accommodated at the same table even if they don’t necessarily know each other.

“It’s something that’s really popular in Toronto,” she said.

The other innovation is a “Chef’s Table” that can be reserved in advance for a still-to-be-determined flat fee, and has a ‘feed-me’ option, which means the chef will shop locally and prepare whatever is sold at the market that week. Having reported all food allergies beforehand, the diners won’t know what they’ll be served until it arrives at the table.

“I’ll make interesting veggies; go to the butcher for something a little different and offer a wine pairing that will be served to that table,” Sison said.  “It’s a new concept we’re doing just to be different.”

Zeytinoglu, who also owns the Watermark Village Bistro in Point Edward as well as Sarnia’s two Harvey’s locations, came up with the name for his new place.

“Okan wrote down a list of names and I picked the one I liked the best,” said Smith. “I like The Republik.  It’s a good solid, bold name that people are going to remember.”

The Republik was expecting to open in time for First Friday June 5.  A patio seating eight overlooks the St. Clair River. Entertainment will be booked for Thursdays and weekends.

The Republik Eatery & Lounge will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. or later.

The Business Journal welcomes interesting ideas. Contact Cathy Dobson at 226-932-0985 or cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca