By Dyke Hendrickson
---- — NEWBURYPORT — A restaurant that has been “dark” since the beginning of the year will soon open under the direction of a well known local restaurateur, Jim Rogers.
Rogers and a construction team have been renovating the eatery formerly known as Joseph’s Winter Street Cafe at 24 Winter St.
The new establishment will be known as Andiamo, which Rogers says is Italian for “Let’s go.”
“I’m looking forward to the opening, which will probably be in early October,” said Rogers, who is developing the establishment with a silent partner. “It will offer some Italian dishes, some with a Mediterrean accent, and in general we will have a great space with good food.
“We’ll have a bar area, which was very popular with those who patronized Joseph’s. And we’re offering about 12 high-top tables, so people can have a drink, perhaps an appetizer and enjoy a casual experience — or a full meal.”
Rogers, a native of Newburyport, brings significant experience to the new venture. After graduating with a culinary degree from Newbury College, he worked at the former Scandia Restaurant on State Street.
He went on to become vice president of operations for Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta, and traveled throughout Italy in pursuit of recipes and inventory for the company’s gourmet line.
After close to a decade, he moved on to become general manager and executive chef for Michael’s Harborside Restaurant here.
He also played a role in refiguring and developing the 10 Center Street restaurant, also in Newburyport.
Most recently, he was executive chef at the Tuscan Kitchen in Salem, N.H.
The restaurant that he takes over was once run by Joseph Pignato, and his wife, Claudia. It closed on Jan. 1 after encountering financial difficulties.
The 3,900 square-foot eatery is housed in a circa 1850 building that is reported to have been an old stage coach stop. Rogers said he has bought a business, not the building.
The structure is currently valued at $369,000, and the interior will have a new look. Rogers said it will offer 120 seats.
“I have always been passionate about creating a great dining experience for customers,” said Rogers. “I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to have worked with and for some great people in the restaurant and food industry.
“It’s exciting to think that I will be opening my own space, and be able to use the experience I’ve gained over the years. We want to offer a pleasurable dining experience.’
Rogers said the restaurant, which will serve dinner only, will employ about 30. He is currently interviewing candidates for positions.
“A new restaurant here is a good thing,” said Ann Ormond, president of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“A variety of choices brings people to the community.
“We welcome Jimmy Rogers back, and look forward to working with him.”