Trevioli Artisan Pasta Company, a popular Columbus restaurant that has operated out of a simple storage unit on Tower Road for three years, is preparing to expand in a major way through a relocation to brand new space on Blackmon Road.
Owner Trevor Morris and Columbus businessman Sanjay Choudhury, who is developing a commercial building near the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Blackmon Road, said Monday they are 50-50 partners in the venture that will bring Trevioli’s current seafood, lamb, duck and pasta dishes — along with an expanded menu — to the new location.
To be called Trevioli Italian Kitchen, the new restaurant will be setting up in a 3,500-square-foot dining space that will also have covered outdoor patio seating, a full bar, a corner stage for entertainment, and possibly an area for accommodating private parties. In all, there will be about 180 seats in the restaurant when it opens, with a target date of sometime in February. The Tower Road eatery will be closed by that time.
“Opening the storage unit was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me, and now this,” Morris said. “I’m not really believing it yet. Once we get in there and get started, it will really hit me. But for now, it’s still kind of a crazy dream that I think I’m having.”
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Choudhury, who also owns the Wild Wing Cafe at Columbus Park Crossing and is involved with other businesses in the area, said he had approached Morris more than a year ago about a partnership. Choudhury, whose office is in the same storage unit complex as Trevioli, where he dines occasionally.
“I’m excited for him, and he’s a good guy to be partners with,” Choudhury said. “It’s locally owned and operated, so that will be really good for people to come down there and support it.”
Choudhury had originally been talking with Atlanta-area restaurant owners who had expressed a desire to open a French bistro-style eatery in the same location. But he said some issues popped up, including their plans to create a VIP-only area in the restaurant.
“The exterior is done and they’re trying to do the interior right now. So I’m hoping by the end of December we should be handing it over to them,” Choudhury said of the building that will be anchored by Trevioli Italian Kitchen. Other tenants, which should be operating within a few weeks, are Valley Rescue Mission and Neighborhood Cleaners.
If everything goes smoothly, longer-term plans, the partners said, could include opening additional restaurants in Phenix City and also Auburn-Opelika, Ala., area, with the Tiger Town development a possibility.
“We have some plans to grow together and try to expand Trevioli,” Choudhury said.
Morris, who has poured his heart and energy into the Tower Road Trevioli, said it wasn’t a simple decision for him to enter a partnership. His fear was that he would give up too much control of the restaurant and its unique concept to someone else. But Choudhury, who he has come to know and like, put him at ease.
“It’s almost like he’s an angel investor,” Morris said of Choudhury, “just letting me do my thing, and that’s what I was partially afraid of with partnering with people,” Morris said.
Morris considered entering a venture with the owners of Nonic, a gastro-pub in downtown Columbus, but then opened a second location in Harris County, Trevioli at the Backwaters, which didn’t gain a following and was closed fairly quickly.
“So I’ve been feeling pretty down and out,” Morris said, “but at the same time the Columbus location has been busting at the seams.”
TripAdvisor users currently rank Trevioli’s Artisan Pasta Company — which Morris likes to keep at 38 or so seats comfortably for guests — at No. 12 in the city, with customers being a mix of local residents and out-of-towners.
Morris said he’s excited about the potential for the new Trevioli Italian Kitchen, with plans to use many of the dishes he now has on his current menu, along with other items that his new space and equipment will allow him to do, including steak.
“I have not been able to sauté or fry or anything in this restaurant except bake up to this point,” he said. “We haven’t been able to afford having a custom hood system installed into the restaurant. ... As a cook, I’m pumped because it just opens up this whole world of things that you can do that I currently can’t do.”
Morris said he currently has four longtime employees on staff who he can trust to get things done. With the new restaurant, he will be looking to add servers and a couple of bartenders. But he also hopes to have four solid cooks or chefs in the back preparing the food that will be served at the tables.
“Right now, when you come into the restaurant, I cook all of your food and put the food on your plate,” he said. “I have a general manager and he does a lot of the stuff and kind of backs me up. But if I’ve got 180 seats I can’t do it all myself. So I’ve got to find some people that are trainable and willing to learn and be humble, which is very difficult to find in our world.”