New Bistro Opens In 'Uptown' Gisela

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"This place is really gonna be uptown," James Kennedy said, as he renovates his new restaurant and bar.

Well, uptown Gisela, maybe.

Kennedy is the new operator of the former Gisela Steakhouse and Saloon, now called the Roundup Restaurant, as well as the now-closed grocery store which adjoins it.

While the eatery reopened on a small scale Thursday offering the likes of canned beer, chips and hot dogs its full-scale grand opening will tentatively be celebrated Oct. 5 and 6.

Kennedy recently picked up a lease-purchase option on the twin businesses and despite the fact that he has no experience as either a restaurateur or grocer. But he seems to have no qualms about jumping into both businesses in a town populated by 532 potential customers.

After all, he's even renovating the 40-some-year-old Old West-style building, complete with a board walkway and a rusty wagon wheel on the roof.

"Yep, we're fixin' it up quite a bit," Kennedy said, with the kind of southwestern drawl you end up with after spending most of your life in Miami. "We put a new post in the front of it. We're taking a wall out so we can have a bigger dance floor. We got some signs being made by Budweiser.

"... We already got a real nice bar, a couple of pool tables, and we're gonna have a band in here on Friday and Saturday nights, and maybe Sunday afternoons. We're going the whole nine yards," Kennedy said, with only the slightest hint of braggadocio.

Kennedy said his decision to become Gisela's only saloonkeeper was spur of the moment.

"We just did it. A friend of mine and I was just looking for something. I seen this place, I asked him about it, we went to see the owner and made the deal. We're just goin' into this place blind and hopin'. But I think it's gonna work. We have a lot of visitors sometimes too many, and we can't get nothin' done because of the visitors.

"There's been some high-powered people out here. Movie stars, all kinds of people. People from Phoenix, Florida, all over."

Although Kennedy's dining room now only seats about 30 or 40, he said, "When we tear the wall out, that'll make room for probably another 25 people.

"We'll have a full dinner menu, with steaks and everything. We'll be open for lunch, too. Mike, the cook over at the Rye Creek Bar and Restaurant, is gonna move over here with us. He has a pretty good following."

That's not all Kennedy is borrowing from the competition.

"The prices will be the same as over at Rye. In fact, we'll be using the same menu here as he's got over there.

"... It should be a pretty interesting place."

The Roundup Restaurant will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week; from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

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