Three local businessmen are collaborating to clean up a deteriorated building in downtown Sarnia and expand an established restaurant.
In just a few weeks, Republik Eatery & Lounge at 216 Front St. North will boast one of the few outdoor patios on Christina Street, triple its capacity and offer new washrooms and a second bar.
That’s all possible because the former Olympia Family Restaurant at 211 Christina St. North was directly behind the Republik and is being purchased, gutted and rebuilt by developers Pat Coutu and Jim Pumple.
When construction is finished, the two buildings will be one and the Republik will extend from Front Street all the way to Christina Street, with entrances on both.
It’s an innovative redevelopment of the property, says Coutu.
There was never any question that an open-air patio would be incorporated into the plan, using the original terrazzo flooring from the Olympia and keeping the roof joists visible above.
The undertaking came together when Republik’s operator, Okan Zeytinoglu, wanted to expand his two-year-old American bistro.
Zeytinoglu originally purchased the Olympia property when it closed in 2012 and the idea was to locate the Republik there, Zeytinoglu said.
“But the Olympia building had been neglected and needed a lot of work.”
So, instead he leased 216 Front from Coutu and Pumple for the Republik, and the Olympia sat deserted and dilapidated.
Then, about six months ago, Zeytinoglu sold the old Olympia building to Pumple and Coutu. The three struck a deal and Zeytinoglu is now leasing the entire space.
“We decided collectively to blow a hole between the two buildings,” explained Coutu who previously redeveloped 234 Front with Pumple.
Since January, Republik has closed Sunday to Tuesday to accommodate reconstruction.
When the expansion is complete, Republik’s capacity will jump from 60 to 200 people and it will be open for business seven days a week.
Several changes are in the works, said Zeytinoglu, including a new brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, fresh paint for the original restaurant, new accessible washrooms, improved food prep areas and a walk-in cooler.
Zeytinoglu has plans to open a private function room in the basement later and introduce valet parking on the weekends.
For anyone with an attachment to the old Olympia, which operated downtown for more than 50 years, Coutu and Pumple have repurposed the old stainless steel sinks and counter and incorporated them into the new bar design.
A big garage door will open onto the patio, matching the door that opens onto Front Street.
It’s hoped the grand re-opening of Republik Eatery & Lounge will take place on First Friday June 2.
Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.