A newly renovated Black Cow Tap and Grill has reopened in downtown Hamilton, with a new menu
"They layout is unbelievable," said general manager Nicole Ananian, who said customers have "literally stopped in their tracks" in the five days since it reopened.
Owner Joe Leone said Black Cow has been in its Bay Road location for 18 years without any major changes.
"We're going to do it for another 18 years," Leone said. "This is the new Cow."
The restaurant had been closed in April to undertake the changes.
Changes run the gamut, all adding a "modern industrial" look, he said.
A two-sides brick fireplace in the middle of the restaurant was removed and the dining and bar area was opened up into one large space. The room is completely opened up to the street with large windows and a new custom built- four-sided gas fireplace its amid the seats, near the window.
"These days people like more open space," said Mike Duratti, general manager of the Newburyport location and one of four Black Cow staff members that showed the look to Hamilton-Wenham Patch on Friday.
Much of the design was developed by taking Leone's ideas, and those of his wife Erika, and working with Hamilton architect Doug Trees.
The bar was moved to the back of the restaurant and expanded slightly, from 17 to 20 seats along a mahogany bar. The draught beer selection has expanded from 24 to 33 taps. There's also a new wine case. There are 24 wines available by the glass and 100 available by the bottle.
Above the bar are three new 55 inch, high-definition LCD television screens.
"The best part of the restaurant is the food," Duratti said.
On the menu, executive chef Al Quiroz said it offers something for everyone. He's kept some of the favorites from past menus and added new items "with a little twist."
A Wood Stone oven was also installed and Quiroz went to the company's test kitchen in Seattle to learn some creative ways to incorporate it into all aspects of the menu. Besides pizza, it is used to cook roasted salmon, cowboy steak and focaccia.
"You can cook pretty much everything on it," Quiroz said.
The physical changes also extend outside, where a new entrance was added in the rear, leading to a repaved parking area.
"We always had a main entrance there, now we can call it a main entrance," he said.
Leone has reached agreement with other businesses in the area to make some spaces available after 6 p.m. and more spaces available after 7 p.m. Some of those spaces are behind the Black Cow and others behind Salem Five, totalling about 40 spaces.
The entrance in the front has changed, moved from the middle to the side with a new heated, "climate resistant" vestibule.
With all the changes, what remains the same?
Not much. But Ananian said the same hostess stand remains from the old restaurant. And the former bar was turned to "banquet seating" - high-top seating along each side of the restaurant that melds the dining area with the bar area.
And above one of those banquet seating areas is the Prince of Wales shield - a new addition to the restaurant's decor.
"I had it and was looking for a spot to put it," Leone said.