A market, cafe and wine bar featuring European cuisine is slated to open next year on East Chatham Street, joining a growing number of businesses drawn to downtown Cary’s revitalization efforts.
Chef Richard Procida plans to open Pro’s Epicurean Market and Cafe, his first restaurant, next spring in Mid-Town Shopping Center. The longstanding retail center has undergone a facelift this year and is now anchored by Bond Brothers Beer Company. The new business will fill a vacant space at 211 E. Chatham St., where Dorry’s Downtown Deli was located before it closed the summer of 2014.
Procida said it will be a one-stop shop for customers looking for lunch or dinner, prepared foods or ingredients for preparing meals at home.
“This concept is pretty much born from what I love doing,” he said. “Which is going to markets, be it in Montreal or Italy, where there’s pretty much anything you want. You can eat anything you want or bring it home to cook, and it’s all of the highest quality.”
Developers Jordan Gussenhoven and George Jordan are renovating the shopping center and developing a retail/office building next door, which will include the new Pizzeria Faulisi. They have been in discussions with potential restaurant operators since the beginning of the year to find the right concept for the space. Procida signed a lease earlier this month.
“We wanted something that would be a nice complement to Pizzeria Faulisi and Bond Brothers,” Gussenhoven said. “It’s going to fill a great niche.”
The full-service restaurant will feature French and Italian cuisine with a variety of appetizers, gourmet sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie plate selections and entrees, many of which Procida creates himself. Offerings also will include artisanal cheeses and breads, mozzarella, pastries, chocolates and other desserts. A beer and wine selection will be available.
Some of his specialties include homemade Burrata, a thin layer of mozzarella filled with a cream mixture and topped with herbs; Rigatoni al Ragu, a prosciutto, pancetta, speck and porcini mushroom ragu served with pasta; and Steak au Poivre, a pan-seared, peppercorn steak with a cognac cream sauce.
“This is basically my playground, and anything I enjoy cooking and eating will actually be on display,” Procida said. “We’ve tried to get as much as we can for the foodies to be able to choose from.”
Procida, a Long Island native, grew up in an Italian family and began cooking at a young age. For about eight years, he worked in restaurants in Long Island, Manhattan and Pennsylvania before attending classes at the Culinary Institute of America in the early 1980s.
When his son was born, he switched gears to the newspaper industry. His career at several New York papers, where he worked in the business end of operations, lasted 35 years before he retired this year as president and publisher to return to his first love – cooking. He said he will apply his passion of food to the experience he gained in the newspaper industry, which helped him prepare for the business world.
“I love to cook, and I love to please others and watch them enjoy the different dishes and experiment,” he said.
Procida says his restaurant will have a relaxed atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating. He said he eventually wants to offer classes for cooking, wine and cheese pairing and mozzarella making, as well as upfit a room to be used as a conference room for businesses to hold meetings.
Unlike some local business owners who are opening restaurants and retail in downtown Cary, Procida said he was attracted to Cary while conducting his research from New York.
“I did a lot of research and got it down to North Carolina,” he said. “From there, I loved the Raleigh area, and downtown Cary was a perfect fit.”
Procida and his wife, Karen, moved to the Triangle in May to start this new phase of their lives. His son, Joseph, who works in Albany, N.Y., will soon join his parents to work in the restaurant. His other children, Brian and Christina, will stay in New York and Massachusetts respectively.
“After having left cooking and being able to come back to your passion many years later is great, and it’s fun,” he said. “It’s not a career. This is the fun part of my life now, and I get to share it with my family.”
An influx of eateries
Pro’s Epicurean Market and Cafe will join several other independent business owners who have plans to open in the next year in downtown Cary, including FRESH. Local Ice Cream, Annelore’s German Bakery and La Farm Bakery.
Pizzeria Faulisi, which will serve Neapolitan-style pizza, expects to open in late January or early February in the almost completed office and retail building next door. This space will be completed at the end of the year, Gussenhoven said.
Gussenhoven is owner of Chatham Street Commercial and is half of the Northwoods Associates partnership renovating the shopping center and developing the building next door. His uncle, Jordan, is the other partner and owns George H. Jordan III Development Co.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon