The Brick Hotel in the heart of Newtown Borough has sprung back to life thanks to a new steakhouse restaurant.
Rocco’s At The Brick is the new steakhouse taking up residence in the local landmark. Business owners and restaurateurs Alex Mastoris and Marc Gelman have worked together for years. The newest steakhouse is the culmination of 35 years of working together and 42 years in the industry for Mastoris.
Before opening Rocco’s, Mastoris has had a number of positions in the restaurant business. He graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in culinary arts before joining the Army. After leaving the military, he opened a restaurant with his father and has has many small roles in various eateries over the years.
The duo were originally looking at another eatery in town, but the number of participating parties made coming to an agreement very difficult. Gelman did some more looking and discovered the Brick Hotel became available.
Mastoris and Gelman have a management agreement with the owners of the building. The five-year agreement means that the restaurateurs have nothing to do with the buildings actual hotel rooms, which remain in control of the building owner.
The renovations to update 220-seat Rocco’s took about three months. The duo got involved in a deal in September and came to an agreement with the building owners in October before beginning renovations.
The inside of the landmark hotel has been completely renovated, Mastoris explained. He added the kitchen was gutted and renovated, there is new carpeting, furniture, paint and art.
The new kitchen will house a team of well-trained staff who will prepare a variety of meal options using many fresh ingredients.
Once the spring comes, the outside garden areas of the historic facility will be re-done as well, Mastoris explained.
The steakhouse’s name is not directly related to either of the owners or management, but actually comes from the son of Executive Chef, Cole Caprioni.
“Rocco’s sounds like a real mans’ man name, a real steakhouse name,” Mastoris said, adding the hint of Italian tough guy the name brings adds to the experience.
“The borough has been wonderful,” Mastoris said. The town has been welcoming and Mastoris is already working towards an amiable relationship with other businesses and restaurants in the area.
The grand opening on Wednesday was prefaced by a soft opening of about a week. In this time, guests raved and complemented the new management on the food and atmosphere, Mastoris explained.
The Brick Hotel has had a rocky reputation in recent years and was featured on Fox’s “Hotel Hell” with chef Gordon Ramsey. Verindar Kaur and her family is still involved with ownership of the facility and has cheered on the new restaurant tenants.
A full steakhouse isn’t the end of the road for Mastoris. In about six months, the dup plan on unveiling a catering service.
“We wanted to get our feet wet here first,” Mastoris said.