Isabella Reopens After Major Renovation, Expands Bar Seating
The Dedham Square restaurant closed for a week and opened on Sunday with double the seating capacity at the bar.
After closing for a week, Isabella restaurant in Dedham Square is back open for business this week with a fresh look and a bigger bar.
"We pretty much doubled the size of the bar from what it was beforehand," Isabella's owner Frank Santo said.
Working around the clock Santo and crews expanded what was once a smaller bar area tucked in the left corner to a 20-seat centerpiece.
"More and more people were opting to sit at the bar that getting a table," he said. "We just felt that it was a new way people wanted to dine and we needed to add the seats. People would come in, the seats would be full and they'd leave."
To make room for the larger bar space, Santo eliminated two tables - about 12 seats - but added enough space for 10-20 bar stools.
With the new bar, Isabella will expand its bar and cocktail menus, Santo said.
Beyond the overhaul of the bar area, the restaurant received a new coat of paint, and general maintenance to the kitchen that Santo said is tough to keep up with when the restaurant is open seven days a week.
"We've been here 17 years, so things get beat-up pretty badly," Santo said. "Almost like a home renovation [...] we had everyone here at once. They worked long days and got it open."
The work cost Santo more than $80,000, but he said he had saved up for it and earmarked funds specifically for the work.
"You constantly update your menus, why wouldn't you upgrade your dining room as well," he said. "I just wanted to get it done."
Coming off a holiday weekend, Santo said restaurant business usually slowed the week after the Fourth of July, so the timing was perfect.
"You certainly hope to make it back. It is like any business, you have to keep re-investing in it, and hopefully you realize a return on that," Santo said. "It shows your staff, your customers that you are here for the long haul."
While some business owners might have shied away from investing $80,000 into a renovation less than a year before a major public infrastructure project, Santo said he wasn't worried about the impending Dedham Square work.
"Hopefully [the renovation] will help carry us through. You are going to see a bump in business from just doing a renovation," Santo said. "I'm not too concerned with the construction. Anytime you have improvement, you have to go through a little pain."