PublicUS hopes to become the destination hub for a revival of Downtown's East Village, a district moving from the shadow of being labeled East, East Fremont. The 3,600-square-foot restaurant with outdoor seating is moving into the construction phase with a firm focus on locals to provide repeat business rather than the tourist-centric clientele of its Fremont Street neighbors.
Taking over the former Philly Steak Express restaurant, PublicUS derives its name from the Latin for "public," drawn from owner Nicholas Akiona's desire for a place where people could gather with lots of "social interaction."
The proposed hours will be from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. providing full-service breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is a casual concept they call "fresh American," working with local and regional suppliers.
PubicUS was initially conceived as a coffee house and the restaurant will avoid any "white tablecloth" approach to dining. Appearing before the city's Redevelopment Agency, Akiona's description prompted Mayor Carolyn Goodman to hope this informal style would entice chef Guy Fieri to schedule a visit.
There will be no kegs on site but an emphasis on bottled craft beers. Construction is scheduled to begin soon with a desired July or August opening date. The estimated project budget is $268,000.
Akiona is leasing the building from Mission Spring Properties which owns this Fremont Center retail block located at the corner of Fremont Street and Maryland Parkway. The East Village neighborhood has long been a blighted area, known for its vacant buildings and cheap motels. Akiona explained to the City Council his desire to focus attention on the needs of the local business tenants and residents, rather than attracting tourists venturing to Fremont East a handful of blocks away.
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