SOUTH KINGSTOWN – After 30 years an iconic Wakefield restaurant is closing its doors and changing hands.
Casey’s Bar and Grill on Old Tower Hill Road is closing Dec. 16.
New co-owners Charlie Samaras and Jamie Laplume plan to renovate the space and turn it into Rare Steak and Fish, a combination of a steakhouse and seafood restaurant.
“It happened very quickly, over a matter of three weeks,” Charlie Samaras said Thursday of his recent acquisition of the restaurant.
Samaras and his wife, Deborah, formerly owned Charlie O’s Tavern in Narragansett until 2006. Since then, Samaras has worked in consulting, but said he is ready to get back into the restaurant business.
“My dad owned five restaurants when I was a kid,” he said. “It’s in your blood and I am looking forward to getting back and running a restaurant again.”
While Casey’s was never marketed for sale, Samaras and Laplume were able to purchase the business due to Samaras’ long-time friendship with current co-owner Joe Formicola.
Formicola purchased the restaurant in 1981 with Judge Frank Caprio and Larry Casey, though Casey soon left the partnership to pursue other business ventures. Formicola will retain ownership of the property and lease it to Samaras.
Samaras said he thinks Formicola is ready to “get into other areas of his life" but hailed Formicola for maintaining a successful business for 30 years.
"It's not a very easy thing to do," Samaras said. "And it doesn't happen very often."
Formicola also co-owns the Coast Guard House in Narragansett, which remains closed as it undergoes renovations to repair damage sustained as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Samaras and Laplume will officially own Casey's once the liquor license is transferred by the South Kingstown Town Council, something that Samaras said he doesn’t expect to happen until after the new year.
The duo hopes to open Rare by March and retain as much of the current Casey’s staff as possible to run the restaurant, which will be open at 4 p.m. daily for dinner and offer moderately priced entrées.
In the meantime, Samaras said he plans to start with the renovations.
“It’s a beautiful place but going form an Irish pub to our steakhouse/seafood restaurant concept we need to remodel in there - change upholstery, carpeting, table tops - it’s going to get freshened up,” he said.
At the restaurant, Samaras plans to serve fresh and locally grown produce, meat and fish.
“Everything’s going to be fresh,” he stressed. “And if it’s fresh, it has to be local.”
Samaras’ long-term goal is to become one of what he called “South County’s great restaurants.”
“There are great restaurants in South County, all types and sizes,” he said. “We just want to put our name on that list.”