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Downtown Restauranteurs Hungry for More

Monday, July 03, 2017

By: Natasha Marar, Business Advisor

A local chef has returned to his Windsor roots bringing international culinary skills to two new entrepreneurial endeavours, downtown restaurants Bread Meats Bread and Burger Farm.

Craft sandwich shop Bread Meat Bread opened in December 2016. It’s owned by chef David Prantera, his wife Silva and her brother, George Shaker, who renovated the space at 33 Chatham St. East.

The Prantera’s, originally from Windsor, moved away from the city in 2008. After Prantera spent years working in five-star hotel restaurants in Dubai, the couple decided return to Windsor with their young daughter to be close to family.

Unlike Dubai, Windsor doesn’t have the same dining environment of high-end restaurants, and hasn’t yet caught up to the booming restaurant scene in Detroit.

“It’s not just Windsor, but anywhere, it’s pretty hard to make money in full-service establishments,” said Prantera. “I thought, ‘it would be cool to do sandwiches, but not the typical sandwich where it’s just deli meat … that’s pretty simple for anyone to make at home.”

Shaker suggested locating the restaurant downtown and Prantera was against the idea it at first. But he liked the space, the landlord and rent was reasonable.

“We found this spot, and we remembered how cool Chatham Street used to be when we were younger. So we said, ‘why not take a shot?’ We believe in urbanity. We believe in strong downtown cores.”

He added, “I know it’s hard but we want to rebuild it and make people think, ‘I want to come from South Windsor, I want to come downtown again. There’s some good food here, not just fast food places. There’s a destination where we can come and have quality.”

Silva conceived the idea of branding Chatham Street as a dining destination. She approached other restaurants Snack Bar-B-Q and Chatham Street Delicatessen topromote the block as Chatham Street East.

“It led to this unity. You want to bring people downtown.

“I worked in an environment (Dubai) where there’s 400 five-star hotels in a city of three million; that’s competition. We all have to fight for the business … and it’s always with quality and amenities. I have the same vision with this street.”

The concept of Bread Meats Bread is rooted in Italian street food. The Italian Job, its signature sandwich is made of porchetta, crackling and gremolata.

The seasonal menu features a rotation of sandwiches as well as small plates such as salad, soup and hand-rolled gnocchi, including its latest variation: ramen gnocchi. Of course, there’s also dessert.

Bread Meats Bread carries local beer, wine and craft soda to enjoy in the bright, trendy dining room or on its new patio.

“What makes us different … is my approach to food has always been quality driven. So I may be using techniques in even a sandwich that may be on a fine dining menu, but the guest isn’t really going to feel that,” said Prantera. “You may not know that that meat has been slow cooked in a sous vide machine for 24 hours; I’m not going to advertise that.”

“You’re going to taste the freshness, you’re going to taste that something’s different, you’re going to taste authenticity.”

As if starting one restaurant isn’t challeging enough, other partners approached Prantera about opening a burger spot. Launched in June, Burger Farm, is located a few doors west at 21 Chatham St. East. Using a farm-fresh approach to his burgers, Pantera said he sources his meat from the same local butcher he uses for Bread Meats Bread. The restaurant also takes a cue from similar ones in the United States, said Prantera, including its custard malt milkshakes.

“[The restaurants] are two different concepts so the food is very different, but kind of the same ...everything is homemade, everything except the bread which is something I buy. I’m not buying mass produced items, I’m not sourcing from big suppliers.”

While the owners are focused on establishing the new businesses downtown, Prantera said he hopes to expand them to new locations in the future.

“I worked in Dubai; Dubai is progressive …  Unfortunately, that changed the way I think. Everything there is very, very fast. When they talk about opening one restaurant, they talk about opening five. That’s the way I think. I don’t think I’ll open one (restaurant ) and wait two years and open another one.”