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More on What’s Happening at K

Written By Scott Joseph On January 20, 2010

You can drop the Restaurant Wine Bar from the name. The “new” restaurant will be known simply as K.nonna_ext

As I announced earlier this week, K Restaurant Wine Bar will vacate its current space at  2401 Edgewater Drive in College Park at the end of February and move down the block and into the building at 1710 now occupied by Nonna Trattoria ed Enoteca. Both restaurants are owned by Kevin Fonzo.

Fonzo elaborated on his plans in a phone conversation yesterday. The Nonna name will be dropped, but some of the menu items will me merged on to K’s menu, including some of the less expensive pasta dishes. Those $12 entrees will reside next to K’s popular filet mignon dusted with porcini mushrooms, which fetches a price of $32.50. A separate bar menu will be offered.

The structure itself will get an overhaul, as well. An old house, built, according to Fonzo, in the 1920s by a Minnesota transplant for his family, the structure has held a restaurant for decades, most famously — or maybe that should be infamously — JoAnn’s Chili Bordello. The space that now holds a bar was once the master bedroom; the kitchen was the kitchen, and the ladies room was the original bathroom. A porch was added on the front, and another on the back, which now houses the dish washing station.

Fonzo said he plans to remove three walls to open the dining space and bar area. A window that looks onto the enclosed porch will be opened into a doorway. Seating, he says, could stretch to 150, though that seems crowded to me. Nonna currently has 100 to 110 seats and K has 65. The side room at K, known as K2, seats 35 max. However you count them, the seats will add up to fewer than the two entities now have.

So why is he doing this? “K is doing great,” says Fonzo, “Nonna is doing OK. I’m not going to say it’s the best of times.” With fewer people going out to eat these days, Fonzo said he found that he was competing with himself for those precious dining dollars. “It’s a no-brainer from a business point of view,” he says.

But while finances and timing — his lease is up soon at K — played into the decision, he says he also was tiring of running between the two restaurants. Nonna is co-owned by Fonzo’s brother Greg, who also serves as the chef. Greg Fonzo will continue as chef under the supervision of his older brother. Kevin will cook, too, but he also wants to be in the front of the house more. K’s manager, Dan Francoforte, will move to the new location, as will the rest of K’s staff. Fonzo says he should be able to keep all staffers in both locations except for two Nonna servers who were planning to leave anyway.

All of this is planned to take place at the end of February with the new and improved K opening March 1, though Fonzo acknowledges that date may be illusory. Nonna will close on February 20 with major construction occurring the following week. K will remain open through February 27, close on Sunday the 28th and reopen in the new location on Monday for lunch and dinner. That’s a lot to happen in a short period of time.

And no one is sure how the ghosts that supposedly reside in the old house will react to this. What, you didn’t know the house was haunted? Well, we’ll save that for another time.

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