Asian Pacific Café closed down last week, and its distinctive building at 3125 Esplanade Ave. was quickly snapped up by a new owner who plans to turn the space into an Italian restaurant.
Former merchant seaman Al Martinez and his wife Amy ran the restaurant since 2004, serving a combination of Japanese food and traditional dishes from the Philippines. The building, nestled in a cluster of small, local businesses in Faubourg St. John, served as a slew of previous restaurants, including the sushi bar Japon. All along though, it has retained its original look of an arts and crafts-style New Orleans cottage.
New co-owner Kathleen Turpel is now converting the building into an Italian restaurant to be called Nona Mia. She says it will be a casual, inexpensive restaurant with options to order pastas and salads family-style in servings for two or four people and pizza either whole or by the slice, plus salads, sandwiches and gelato. An open-air patio is being expanded and partially enclosed to add more outdoor dining space.
Turpel was vice president of sales and marketing for the Gambit until 2001, and she is now owner of the Mandeville-based firm Imaginal Marketing Group. She will run the marketing side of Nona Mia, while business partner Adam Ertem will handle the restaurant operations.
She has an ambitious timeline for opening the new business and hopes to begin service later this month.
-- Ian McNulty