Albero Cafe at 4811 E. Central turned 5 this summer.
And that’s just about how long its owner, Hassan Ballout, has been dreaming about opening a second restaurant.
Now, it’s finally happening. Ballout plans to open Albero Bistro in Greenwich Place, the same center at K-96 and Greenwich where Dave & Buster’s just opened and where Saltgrass Steak House will open later this month.
The restaurant, which Ballout plans to open around the holidays, will have a slightly different approach from his Albero Cafe and will have more of an Italian restaurant feel, he said, offering more entrees and traditional Italian food like Alfredo, saltimbocca and veal.
“We will make some slight changes to the menu,” he said. “We’ll carry a lot of the items from here, but we’ll have more space, so we can play a little bit more.”
Albero Bistro is taking over the space that was recently vacated by a women’s boutique called Charming Charlie, which opened in October 2017 but recently closed. It’s in the same section of Greenwich Place where Freezing Moo is.
It’s an enormous space, Ballout said, but he’s only taking part of it — about 2,700 feet. He’ll have room for about 74 people inside, and he’ll be able to have a covered patio that will seat about 26.
The restaurant will have more booths, he said, and a bigger kitchen.
Ballout, who worked for 10 years at Bella Luna before branching off on his own to open Albero Cafe in 2014, has been quietly planning for years to open another restaurant but wanted to find the right space. He signed the lease this week at Greenwich Place.
Construction should start in a week or so, Ballout said, and he can’t wait to move into the area.
“There’s a lot of growth going on there, and there’s a need for something different,” he said. “There’s a lot of great restaurants up there already, but there’s nothing like us. We’ll be in good company.”
I’ll keep you posted on the progress at Albero Bistro.