The Buzz: Preview of coming attractions. Appleton will gain ramen, pizza, wine, smoothies and more before the end of 2017. (Maureen Wallenfang/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
Having a high-end restaurant near the mall was perhaps not the best idea.
As Conrado Lopez mulled over his new restaurant concept, he decided that throwing out the formal tablecloths, higher prices and unfamiliar dishes was a better way to go.
On Thursday, Lopez and his brother Oscar opened The Local Neighborhood Grill, or “The Local” for short, their new casual restaurant at 213 S. Nicolet Road in Grand Chute, south of the Fox River Mall.
It serves gourmet burgers and artisan pizzas, and its beer selection includes lots of Wisconsin labels.
It’s a far cry from their previous Castilla Bistro & Tapas, an upscale Spanish restaurant that had been here until September.
“We wanted to change it up,” he said. “Look at the restaurants around here — Chipotle, Outback and Buffalo Wild Wings. We said, ‘why don’t we try more of a neighborhood grill?’ Let’s make it something that’s not just for couples or business people. It’s everybody.
“We don’t want to be a place that you go for special occasions. We want it to be a place you go when you’re hungry.”
The space previously housed Gather Americana and The Seasons under different owners.
Castilla had been mired in problems, Lopez said, including a kitchen staff that didn’t have its act together, a chef who left in the middle of the night with the recipes, too many unhappy customers and a general misconception it served Mexican food. Customers stopped going.
“We ran out of money and we didn’t want to take money from our other businesses,” Lopez said.
They continued to operate their Il Angolo Resto-Bar, C-Vine Lounge and Rocket Subs & More while they worked on changing Castilla into something new.
Interior colors are warm browns and wood tones. Vintage photos of Milwaukee breweries line the bar and oversized food photos decorate the dining room.
Prices start at $7.99 for appetizers, and the menu includes pizzas, hamburgers, pasta, salads and daily specials. It has a children’s menu.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Closed Sundays. Phone: 920-939-2503. Website and Facebook page to come.