An empty restaurant in Birmingham city center will have new life next spring.
Plans submitted to the city propose to locate a new American restaurant within the space that once housed Vinotecca at 210 S. Old Woodward. This restaurant would be called Zana and would serve a variety of dishes.
“Regarding the new concept and the new menu of the new space, I will consider this concept as modern and contemporary American cuisine,” said Mario Camaj, owner of the new restaurant. “We will be open for lunch and dinner.”
The proposed project was submitted to the city’s planning council at its September 22 meeting at Birmingham Town Hall for a review of its special land use permit, as well as its final review of the plan implantation. There, members of the town planning council moved the project forward with recommendations for approval to the town commission.
Camaj, who also owns the Tallulah Wine Bar & Bistro in Birmingham city center, said the menu would consist of items such as salads, sandwiches, pasta and steaks. The space banquet hall is expected to remain as Camaj has said he hopes to add a second kitchen to help meet demand.
“It was logically difficult to run a 250-seat restaurant from one kitchen. We know the Friday and Saturday night nature is just not doable,” he said. “And one thing that we are changing is this.”
Vinotecca, from Royal Oak, moved to the Birmingham space in 2018, taking over what was The Bird & The Bread. It closed last fall.
One thing raised by the members of the planning council was the problems with the front windows, which can be opened. Planning board member Stuart Jeffares said he was still concerned about COVID-19, having enough fresh air for patrons looking for a more ventilated dining experience.
“If you’re out there you want some kind of air movement,” he said. “I would have at least two walls with Nanawalls instead of one.”
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Sabrina Buchanan, one of the petitioners for the project, said the windows in the space will be opened as often as logically possible once the restaurant is open.
“We plan to do this, for all intents and purposes, during the summer days and when the weather is nice enough for everything to be opened and displayed. We plan to open these doors at any time,” she said. . “They would only really be closed if there was a wave and a gust of wind or so on or when it was colder.”
Camaj said he hopes Zana will be open by March.