MANCHESTER — Gary and Judi Window want to bring the “next-best-thing” to home cooking to their first restaurant on Elm Street.
Diz’s Cafe — named with Gary Window’s nickname — is set to open in March in part of the former Lorena’s Cantina, which closed at the end of October. The space is being divided into two units.
“He has been in the restaurant business since he was 16 years old, so it has always been a dream of ours to open some kind of restaurant, somewhere,” said Judi Window. “What better place to do it than downtown Manchester where we lived our whole lives?”
A construction crew is renovating the space inside the former McQuade’s clothing store, 844-860 Elm St. The building is owned by Orbit Group LLC and is home to Bookery Manchester, founded by Liz Hitchcock.
The group filled the space with a pop-up of Apotheca Flowers over the holidays. Amy Chhom, who helps manage the property, said the pop-up worked well, and they’re looking for a similar concept.
“With our success at the Bookery here we are being very deliberate in finding a retail user that complements our goals,” Chhom said.
Diz’s Cafe fit the bill with its “quick service, quality foods, for pick up or eat-in” concept. Delivery and large meals for meetings and families will also be available.
“Their concept was the most appealing for us because we thought it fit a need in the community that is currently lacking,” Chhom said. “People want more options outside of restaurants and bars.”
Hitchcock tweeted about the new cafe last week, “#luvMHT especially excited for the grab and go concept — hello dinner on a busy night!”
The menu will include soups, entrees and baked goods from a scratch kitchen and a selection of beer and wine. One special could be Diz’s famous chicken cordon bleu, his wife said.
“Diz has phenomenal specials. That’s going to be the feature,” Judi Window said. “If you come to dinner it is not going to be the same all the time. We will have some standards, and we’ll have things people really like and all those things, but his specials are really special.”
The space will fit in well with other downtown businesses, Judi Window said.
“I don’t think we are in competition with each other,” she said. “I think the more activity and excitement we have downtown, the more people will come downtown.”
The Windows want the space to be a place “locals go and visitors feel welcome.”
“People have been very excited — we have almost 500 likes on Facebook, and it just went out a week or so ago. We’re very excited about the interest,” Judi Window said.
There’s been one pressing question among future customers: “What type of food do you serve?”
“Comfort foods. We have a ‘made from scratch’ menu, with the ability for some dietary modifications,” wrote Gary Window on Facebook. “Imagine going home for dinner, but someone else cooking it!”