Salumi, a new Italian, small-plate restaurant featuring locally produced food and wine, is opening soon on the Ashland Plaza in the place of Grilla Bites.
Owner Anna Hogan, former manager of nearby Kobe, says her restaurant will be a "foodie-esque" eatery with a "rustic industrial vibe" that incorporates not only Italian, but French and Japanese cuisine when it opens sometime in March.
Salumi is undergoing extensive remodeling; rustic wood from the Applegate will be recycled and incorporated into the new decor, Hogan says. She will use local produce, organic food when possible, and offer wines from Southern Oregon and Italy. "There will be a huge emphasis on it being an ode to Oregon and my love for the state," says Hogan, whose father grew up in Jacksonville.
With the closing of Grilla Bites late last fall, the popular Sunday folk music and dance gatherings have moved to the Black Sheep Pub and Restaurant a few doors down.
The new time is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., says longtime wind instrument player Stephen Gagne.
"That group of musicians and dancers have a good following, and I'm glad to help continue a great tradition," says Black Sheep owner Susan Chester, who will be serving scones, crumpets and English breakfast during the musical festivities, which started two decades ago in the now-shuttered Key of C on A Street.
After folk dancing, Black Sheep hosts Irish musicians at 2 p.m.
She is a native San Franciscan and will offer 49ers and Ducks games on a small-screen TV, but she notes it's not a sports bar.
Italian small plate is similar to tapas, she says. A person walking in with a $10 bill can leave feeling full. Or a group of friends can order several and share for an affordable price, she says.
Hogan, who has a degree in theater, worked in past years as a server in New York and San Francisco. She began managing restaurants at age 25, putting in five years as manager at Kobe.
While trying to avoid use of the word "gourmet," Hogan says Salumi will make foodies happy while still being "user-friendly, social, affordable and able to accommodate people who want gluten-free, vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions."
Owning her own restaurant, especially with a good location, has been a lifelong dream, says Hogan, who remembers her first visions of it while "sitting on a stool in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother being reminded to stir the béarnaise. It's been in my soul forever.
"I'm putting my heart into it, and I hope it's well-received," she says. "The space came open at the same time the financing appeared, so the universe took care of me."
Monika Dubois, owner for more than six years of the organic Grilla Bites Restaurant, says she had to close her doors because of financial issues, including costs of labor and organic food, as well as the loss of a working partner.
"Organic is one of my passions," Dubois says. "Who knows? I may resurface with the same good ideas soon."
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at email@example.com.