For more than two years, construction has been underway (sporadically) kitty corner from the Dunkin' Donuts in town. Residents constantly wonder, "What's going in there?"
The twin colonial buildings, located at 73-79 Main St., will include a new restaurant and some to-be-named businesses. Jimmy Voyiatzis purchased the property in 2008, and began the permit and building process shortly thereafter. Provided some design glitches are ironed out, the restaurant — called Hillside Restaurant Pasta and Seafood — should be open by the fall.
Hillside Restaurant he describes as a "new style restaurant with gourmet food for a Blue Jeans Pizza price." At 4,000 square feet, Hillside will be an open plan where diners can view the preparation area, and it will also include a salad bar. He plans to apply for a beer and wine license, as well.
"We are paying attention to the economy," said Voyiatzis, "and the consumer is conservative. We're going to make sure pricewise, quality wise and portion wise that I can make sure you are a customer four times a week."
A family style restaurant with ample parking, the capacity will be 75-100 and will also offer take-out. The menu, ranging from pasta to beef and chicken dishes to salads and seafood, will be priced from $6.75 to $14.95. Voyiatzis says he and his sons, Nick and John, as well as his brother Peter, will manage the business, but he plans to hire ten chefs who have recently graduated from the West Boylston Culinary Arts School.
"If you do not know how to cook or how to do preparation [as the owner]," he said, "and if you do not know how to direct and buy things, you are going to fail. We are going to go to Boston on Mondays and Thursdays to buy the best produce and seafood."
He claims opening this restaurant will be his last grand venture in life. "I'm 58, but I feel like I'm 85," laughed Voyiatzis.
Originally from Greece (and he's got the thick accent to prove it), Voyiatzis came to Massachusetts 35 years ago to visit family. With $18 in his pocket, he decided to stay after only a short while. He had no formal training, but worked his way to become a well-respected gourmet chef in the area, and also owns an import-export textbook company.
"When I got here, I didn't even know how to say, 'Hi, how are you? I'm thirsty and I'm tired and I want to have a glass of water,'" he said.
Voyiatzis has owned four other restaurants, most recently Bellingham Pizza and Seafood, and his family owns and operates the small chain of Coral Seafood restaurants in the area.
There are few large-scale endeavors that don't encounter a few hiccups, and this is no exception. Ask Voyiatzis, and he says things are moving along, explaining that originally there were some discrepencies between what the town preferred and exsisting bylaws. These, he said, determined whether the building was constructed closer to the street with the parking behind the building, or with the parking in front.
"From the beginning, the building was supposed to be sitting in the back," said Voyiatzis, "with the parking lot in the front. Three years ago, they changed the bylaws and they tried to make the town area like Tymes Square, and they wanted buildings close to the street. I had a permit to do the building in the back, but I obeyed with the town because they wanted it that way.
"I should have been done a year and a half ago. The town never gave me a hard time. They have been very nice. I am not here to create problems for the town. I want to do good for the town."
Town Planner Kathy Joubert, however, said there are other issues that have to be dealt with before construction can continue.
"The building is not too close to the street," said Joubert. "That is not the issue at all. The applicant has not complied with the Design Review Committee (DRC) and this is the holdup as far as that aspect of the project. There are also issues with the Earth Removal Board, Fire Department and Conservation Commission. But as far as what is in my jurisdiction, he needs to come back to the DRC and has not done so yet. We hope to have him in compliance in the very near future and the project can move forward as everyone, staff and residents, are anxious to see it built and occupied."
Voyiatzis is confident that completion is not far off.
"Northborough is one of the nicest towns," he said. "It is central to a triangle that connects to Routes 495, 20, 9 and the Mass Pike. In five or ten minutes, you're any place you wish to be. It's an A-plus."