Froso's Restaurant on the Kenai Spur Highway in Soldotna will open soon, if all goes according to plan.
"I don't want to tell the customers we'll be open by the end of the month and then not be ready," said Froso Charalambous, who owns the establishment with her husband, Mike. "Let's just say we'll be open soon."
Formerly Pizza Pete's, which was destroyed by fire in October 2001, Froso's will have a similar menu featuring Italian, Mexican and some Greek dishes as well as steaks and seafood, according to the owner.
"I am still working with the chef on the menu," she said Wednesday.
The food price structure is expected to remain about the same.
Early this week, the name of the new restaurant was installed in large black letters on the face of the eatery, which is 6,000 square feet, nearly twice the size of Pizza Pete's.
Two early morning fires destroyed that restaurant Oct. 10, 2001. The cause of the fires was never determined.
Damage from the first fire was estimated at $5,000, but damage from the second blaze was far more extensive, destroying the building and its contents and closing the business.
The new restaurant will seat 130 people in the main dining room and will include a banquet room large enough for groups of 50. It is designed in the motif of the Charalambous family's native Greece; Froso actually is a native of neighboring Cyprus.
A large, glass chandelier greets visitors as they pass through a columned entrance at the south side of the building. A similar chandelier and two smaller ones adorn the banquet room to the left. The banquet room is furnished with a gas fireplace at one end.
The main dining room to the right features three large chandeliers, high-back upholstered booths with cherry-wood trimmed tables and custom-designed carpet in deep blue with a pattern of light green grape leaves.
The Grecian theme also carries into the wheelchair-accessible restrooms with travertine-stone ornaments topping the porcelain wall tile.
Behind the scenes is a generously sized staging area for the wait-person staff, a kitchen about twice the size of the Pizza Pete's kitchen, a walk-in freezer, a walk-in cooler and a large dish-washing area.
The 3,000-square-foot basement area includes a large storeroom for nonperishables and other supplies, a full bathroom for employees and a receiving area.
When Froso's opens, the restaurant will employ about 30 people, Charalambous said, and initially, will serve only dinner from 2 p.m. until closing seven days a week.
"Closing time will depend on the business," she said. "If we have customers, we will stay open until 10 or 11.
"Pretty much everything is in now," Charalambous said Wednesday.
Workers were busily putting finishing touches on booths, the exterior painted pillars and equipment installation, and the owner said she was still waiting for one permit and some equipment testing.
"We've had many people stop by to ask when we are going to open. I really appreciate their support," Charalambous said.
"We really look forward to serving them again real soon."
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