Spring brings eatery revamp

An April fire at the Manhattan Loft has driven the owners to an early remodel.

Allie Winter

A newcomer to Stadium Village, Manhattan Loft, is closed for remodeling after two years of business.

Co-owner Julie Hasan said construction was set to begin in the summer, but a grease fire in early April kick-started the remodel. The fire occurred inside a pizza oven, not causing enough damage to call the fire department, Hasan said, but the large oven was removed for repair.

“We had to pull it out of there, and we had to move everything around just to get it out,” she said. “And once we had that out, we thought we might as well just start now.”

Hasan owns the restaurant, located at 802 Washington Ave. S.E., with her husband Sam.

Hasan said she wasn’t thrilled about starting the remodel early because of the season: The restaurant features a large garage door that opens to Washington Avenue, allowing customers to enjoy the spring weather.

“Now is a busy time on campus, and we looked forward to it,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy for us.”

Closing the doors early didn’t just upset the owners; frequenters of the restaurant suffered too.

Toussaint Morrison, a 2005 University graduate and lead singer of local band The Blend, was scheduled to have a CD release at Manhattan Loft on April 12, just days after the fire, forcing them to move to the Steak Knife.

Morrison said his band, which plays acoustic shows at the pizza place once a month, informed fans of the location change last minute via Facebook.

“The whole problem is the CD we were releasing was an acoustic album recorded at Manhattan Loft,” he said.

Morrison also said the store’s closing will be an inconvenience because it’s one of the few places for a band to easily book a performance.

“It’s an accessible platform, unlike a lot of places around here,” he said.

Morrison said he hopes the remodel will result in more performance space and more local recognition for the owners.

“I hate to see an independent business go down because of one grease fire,” he said.

Details of the remodel are still simmering, Hasan said. She said she’ll know more soon and hopes to reopen this summer.

Kelly Jo Mitchell, a journalism junior and Manhattan Loft musician and customer, said she’s anxious for the doors to open.

“I eat there now and then,” she said. “They have the best carrot cake.”