For decades, Square One restaurant owner Michael Stewart greeted each diner as if they were invited guests at a private dinner party, remembering names, drinks of choice and personal preferences. Now, after 22 years, Stewart and his partner Philip Shahan sold the Duval Square restaurant on Jan. 18.
But they didn't hand the reins over to just anyone.
Longtime, local restaurateurs Dominique Falkner, Carolyn Sullivan and Carmelo Vitale bought the restaurant.
Sullivan and Vitale own the Bottlecap Groove Lounge on Simonton Street, and were the founders and 20-year owners of La Trattoria and Virglio's Italian restaurant and lounge on Duval Street. Falkner is a co-owner of the Banana Cafe French bistro and French chef.
The new owners closed for a few weeks for renovations, and will reopen for dinner tonight.
Although Stewart won't be at the door with his usual greetings, the name and the staff remains the same.
"Chef Andrew Nguyen and Sous Chef Richard Moody are still in the kitchen creating their signature dishes," Sullivan said, adding that Pattycakes will still greet customers from behind the bar.
The recent renovations have added a modern flair to the space while retaining the comfortable, upscale appeal that Stewart lovingly created, she said.
"The cooking style is similar to French Nouvelle cuisine, however, with global influences mainly from Latin America," Sullivan said, adding that she and Vitale are thrilled to once again share the joy of food with their customers.
"Michael Stewart will be sorely missed," Vitale said. "He is the perfect gentleman that made sure every guest felt welcome as soon as they entered the establishment. We have a chair at the bar reserved just for him -- right by the front door of course."
Square One reopens for dinner tonight, and will offer lunch and dinner, Sullivan said, adding that they are planning to soon offer Sunday brunch, off-site catering and specialty dinner events.
The restaurant is located in Duval Square at 1075 Duval St.