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Although there have been many unique restaurants in Warsaw over the years, Italian restaurants have been rare.
Apart from Bella Vitale, which had a fleeting existence in the Wyndham Garden Hotel complex a few years ago, there has never been a great quality fine-dining restaurant that caters to lovers of lasagna, linguine and fettuccine. .
But that is about to change.
According to the owners of two Italian restaurants — Salvatori’s Authentic Italian Eatery, a family-run chain in Fort Wayne, and Papa Vino’s Italian Kitchen, a small chain owned by regional catering company, Quality Dining, of Mishawaka — both plan to open restaurants. in Warsaw.
If this was considered a race to be first to open, Salvatori appears to have a slight lead. They plan to open in September once renovations are complete at Richard’s restaurant on US 30.
Salvatori’s owner Panos Bourounis operates five restaurants in the Fort Wayne area, including one on Leo Road that recently opened.
Bourounis bought the shuttered restaurant on US 30 shortly after it closed about a year ago, but was undecided about its future until recently.
He said the new restaurant will be able to accommodate more than 175 people. But staffing is a concern because it takes about 60 people to operate a large restaurant, he said.
“That was the main concern, but we really think there is a need for a larger format Salvatori for the Warsaw area,” he said.
Renovations will include new plumbing, new electrical and a new exterior look. He said it will be one of the most expensive stores to build for his business, “But in the long run, I think it will pay off for us.”
Bourounis said he had been to the city of Warsaw a dozen times over the past few months to survey the restaurant environment.
“I saw a lot of pizzerias, but not a real Italian restaurant,” he said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Quality Dining confirmed on Friday that one of three new liquor licenses being sold in Kosciusko County (and announced on Thursday) includes one for a future restaurant in Warsaw.
“You can’t have a Papa Vino’s without the vino,” said Kelli Stopczynski, director of marketing for Quality Dining. “We recently purchased a beer, wine and liquor license for Kosciusko County, which is part of the process towards what we hope will be a new restaurant in the Warsaw area.”
Restaurant discussions looking at a lot near Kohl’s on Ind. 15 circulated, but Stopczynski said he was not ready to announce a location. She said they want to allow time for due diligence out of respect for the process.
In addition to Papa Vino’s, Quality Dining owns Uptown Kitchen in Granger and operates 148 Burger King restaurants in Florida, Indiana and Michigan.
Last year, Quality Dining rebuilt its Burger King in Warsaw.
“We think the large community of Warsaw and Kosciusko County is a great market and we are confident that our Papa Vino’s brand will be well received there.”
Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce CEO Rob Parker said he was aware of the news and welcomed it with open arms. “I love it. I’m just not sure my waistline will do it,” Parker said.
Parker said the request for an Italian restaurant in Warsaw was one of the most common themes he heard.
“Having two in the not-too-distant future is really cool,” Parker said.
Neither company seemed to be aware of the other’s competition.
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