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March 17, 2003 // UPDATED 9:21 am - April 30, 2007
By: Ellen Nigon
Ellen Nigon

Amsterdam to bring a little Chicago to Downtown

The Amsterdam Caf will soon re-open under new ownership and under a slightly different name. The Amsterdam Caf at 112 N. 3rd St. will add "Wine Bar" to its name as new owner John Laurent opens the restaurant late this spring or early summer.

"We want to offer something a little different in that neighborhood. We didn't feel like anybody was exactly fitting the demographic of the people who are buying and building on the riverfront. We think that group, along with the captured audience of the office people, would really find a wine bar very attractive," Laurent said.

Laurent plans to open a restaurant that serves espresso in the morning, an extensive wine selection in the evening, a full lunch during the day and small plate entrees at night.

Laurent describes the atmosphere inside The Amsterdam as having a "Chicago" bar feel. "It's long and narrow. One full wall is brick, floor-to-ceiling. It has the original hardwood floors. The ceiling is all original tin."

Beyond the original charm, Laurent has commissioned a Minneapolis artist to paint a mural on one wall depicting local jazz musicians and Laurent's friends.

"She's doing a mural that's depicting today's dress but a feel like you're in '20s Paris. We've taken these bodies from the 1920s look that are sleek and silhouetted. They've got a glass of wine or coffee and they're all in a party scene. They're very sophisticated and well dressed," he said.

Laurent, a real estate developer, compares himself to a character in the book "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly."

Said Laurent, "[The book] made so much fun of one guy about my age starting a restaurant. He just wants to be cool and show off to his friends what great taste he has in wine and fine dining. Of course he fails miserably. I said, 'I guess that pretty well covers me.'"

Upscale yet casual VIC'S replaces Anthony's Wharf

A new restaurant is taking over the recently closed Anthony's Wharf at 201 SE Main Street. VIC'S Dining and Cocktails comes from the owners of the neighboring restaurant, Pracna on Main. Owners plan for a May 2003 opening.

Executive chef and general manager David Lue, said VIC'S will offer an ala cart menu that focuses heavily on fish, with different varieties of fresh fish flown in daily.

He said the atmosphere would have an upscale, casual feel. "You can come in wearing anything from jeans to a tuxedo," he said.

"It's going to look nothing like the old Anthony's Wharf," Lue said. "We've gutted the whole thing. We replaced everything. It's going to be a totally different look with a great long curved bar and a fireplace."

Lue said the average price of a full meal will range between $35 and $40.