Among the handful of new businesses opening in Montpelier this fall, one may be met with particular enthusiasm because of the fare and the location: a new sushi bar in the long-empty, historic Chittenden Bank building at 43 State Street.
“I have customers [in Asiana] from Montpelier that ask, ‘When are you going to open in Montpelier?’” says Gary Ma, the owner of Burlington’s Asiana House and the forthcoming eatery. “There, they don’t really have sushi. I wanted to try some new things.”
The capital city’s only taste of nigiri sushi currently comes from Himitsu Sushi night, every Wednesday at Kismet. By December, it will have some sushi competition at the as-yet-unnamed, 60-seat, bistro-style restaurant inside the former bank, which landlord Jesse Jacobs is renovating.
Jacobs — who has a degree in art history and architectural design — says his re-do of the space is “inspired by Parisian bistros of the 1920s and colonial Shanghai of the ’30s, mixed with a little New York City Balthazar’s kind of feel.” Photographs show a warm-toned room with banquettes and art-deco touches. Ma will bring in a contractor in October to build the sushi bar and put finishing touches on the kitchen. There will also be a full alcohol bar.
Though Ma still hasn’t worked out a name or a menu for the new restaurant, he says it will likely have more focused offerings than in Burlington, including hot dishes and new rolls. He has already tapped a few chefs from out of state who will help him plan the menu. “I want to bring some slightly different food to another town in Vermont,” Ma says.