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November 14. 2012 9:39PM

New Manchester restaurant aims at professional women


Neville Pereira, owner of Ignite Restaunt on Hanover Street, stands in his new restaurant, Hooked Seafood Restaurant and Raw Bar, next door. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER - Neville Pereira has a pretty good track record when it comes to the highly volatile restaurant business. He's owned the Capital Grille in Concord since 2000, and with his partners has started three successful Manchester restaurants since 2009 - Ignite Bar and Grille, Hooked seafood restaurant and Sizzle Bistro.

Pereira is part-owner of the Ignited Arrow restaurant holding company with his partners Carol Sheehan, owner of the Red Arrow diners, and Lui Vaine, a long-time restaurateur. Together they own and operate 11 restaurants in the state.

They are now turning much of what they've learned toward their newest endeavor, the Rouge Grille, scheduled to open the first week of December at 860 Elm St., former location of Z restaurant and catering.

Pererira says the new restaurant is opening with a very specific demographic in mind - professional women. He and his partners have kept a careful eye on the clientele at their existing locations, and are convinced there is a market with great potential.

"In all our experience to date, we find that women are spending the most dollars in restaurants right now," he said. "They are 53 percent of the national work force; they are holding top positions in Fortune 500 companies; and they are spending. They are drinking martinis, not one, but two or three. They are having an appetizer; they are having an entree; they are having dessert; and they come in groups of anywhere from four to 10 at a time."

The tagline for the restaurant reflects its marketing plan: "Recognizing and satisfying the fastest growing clientele in America. Ladies, this one is for you." The owners plan a soft opening in early December, with a grand opening to come in January.

"We want to capture the holiday gift certificate business," Pereira said.

Despite the uncertainties attendant to the hospitality industry, Pereira is confident about the business plan for Rouge. "It's very solid," he said. "You can take this one to the bank."

The decor will be contemporary, he said, but feminine, with soft colors, warm atmosphere and fresh flowers on the tables. "We will be providing an environment that they feel safe in, where they can be comfortable, enjoy themselves, and not be bothered." Translation: Not a place for hooking up.

"We certainly will not encourage that," Pereira said, "but it will be a great place for people to come out on a date - for a professional woman to bring her man for a date. Times have changed."

He described the menu as international fusion cuisine.

"With people from different cultures coming together, getting married, having children, and so forth, we think it's appropriate to do the same with food," he said.

Take an Italian dish, for instance, like a fettuccine alfredo. The restaurant will give it an Indian twist, for alfredo with vindaloo curry; or it will infuse an American classic with a Japanese touch in a wasabi filet mignon.

"We are taking two different cultures and producing one dish," he said.

Beverage offerings will include an extensive wine list and a selection of cocktails called The Collection, with each one named after a famous designer or label - the Coach, the Louis Vuitton, the Chanel.

According to Pereira, the 860 Elm St. location is one of the nicest restaurant spaces in a town that has been very good to him and his partners.

"We believe in our town," he said. "We love the city and we're doing everything we can to keep it vibrant and make it a dining destination. That is our main focus."

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Dave Solomon may be reached at dsolomon@unionleader.com.



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