2015-12-10 / Front Page

New Owner for Three Eateries

By Olga Enger

While most people are out buying stocking stuffers and fruit baskets, one Newport native has spent this shopping season picking up a few larger items – restaurants. After making three purchases within a few months, Patrick Kilroy said he has no immediate plans for further purchases.

“I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew,” the 38-year-old laughed. “I’ve got my hands full now. I need to get these places up and running.”

Kilroy recently partnered on three restaurant deals, including Rhino Bar and Rhumbline, which sold for $800,000 each, and most recently Café Zelda, which sold for $1 million. The sales included the buildings and liquor licenses, which cost roughly $200,000 each.

“It was really just a matter of timing. They became available at the same time,” Kilroy explained. “These are places I’ve always liked, so I jumped on them.”

Kilroy is no stranger to the local restaurant industry. For almost 40 years, his parents have owned local restaurants, including The Landing and Aquidneck Lobster Bar, which employs up to 300 people at the height of summer. Across the street, his cousin and uncle, Chris and Gary Kilroy, own One Pelham East.

In 2012, Kilroy partnered with developer Larry Silverstein, a Newport resident originally from Baltimore, Md., to purchase and renovate Salas’ Dining Room, located at 345 Thames St. Over a year and $2 million later, they opened Midtown Oyster Bar, which employs over 100 people in the summer and is known for its coastal-inspired menu and varied raw bar. The location has two outside decks and three full bars, with 14 beers on tap and a selection of 50 bottled beers available.

The nautically inspired, openspace restaurant was constructed from recycled materials, including wood salvaged from a Brooklyn warehouse. The floors came from a factory in Woonsocket.

"Larry’s wife, Jessica, is a phenomenal decorator,” said Kilroy.

This fall, the Midtown duo decided to expand. They first purchased Rhino Bar, located next door to Midtown Oyster Bar.

“We aren’t 100 percent sure what we are doing down there,” said Kilroy. Their current plans are to name it the "Surf Club" and serve quality pub fare with a staff of about 50 people. Renovations are underway, but the plans are still fluid.

“We aren’t in a big rush. We are making sure it is done right. It will be similar to what we did with Midtown, with old beams and showcasing the existing architecture,” Kilroy said. “Plus, we would be crazy to open a restaurant in January.”

There is one thing that is certain about the location, which has had its share of late night problems in the past.

“We aren’t going to do a dance club. We know that for sure.”

Shortly after the purchase of Rhino Bar, Kilroy and Silverstein purchased Rhumbline on Bridge Street. The building includes an apartment on the second floor, which Kilroy hopes to renovate and use as a private residence.

“The plan is to keep it a restaurant, keep it the same concept. Right now we are tweaking the kitchen and the dining room. Some of it is really outdated,” Kilroy said. “We are looking to hire a chef.”

Most recently, Kilroy partnered with his brother Craig to purchase Café Zelda, located at 528 Thames St. The purchase is expected to go through in January and Kilroy hopes to open the doors again in February. He said his plans for the popular Thames Street bar entail minimal changes.

“I was in there the other night and people asked if we were going to tear it down,” Kilroy said. “We are only planning on minor upgrades, such as new paint. We have been talking to the chef and bar manager, it should stay pretty much the same.”

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