Chateau Cantina Leicester restaurant Nicas former Chateau Restaurant

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LEICESTER РSuhaily Qui̱ones said the inspiration to open Castle Cantina, the Spanish tapas restaurant moved into the former Castle Restaurant, came from her own heritage and from the castle itself.

“When I saw this place, I just loved the concept of a castle,” she said. “My husband and I have been in the restaurant business for many, many years, and I am convinced that every place has its charm. The second I went there it reminded me so much of Spain and the Castles in Spain. My great-grandmother, she’s Spanish from Spain, so it’s kind of related to the culture, and my vision has always been very clear on what I wanted it to be. “

The castle restaurant closed in July, but its legacy will live on through Cantina Castle, which will preserve the charm and history of the family and family restaurant.

The Castle Cantina Tapas bar and restaurant, which keeps the castle’s obvious and unchanging theme, is slated to open before New Years Eve, according to Quiñones, who opens the restaurant with her husband, Jose Flores, and brother, Carlos Quiñones.

Tapas are small dishes served in Spain, usually for sharing or as an appetizer, and various ingredients ranging from meat and bread to shellfish and vegetables. Quiñones said the menu is still on-going, as she wanted to create a cultural experience with the dishes while keeping the family menu.

The restaurant can seat 350 people indoors and outdoors, with an outdoor patio overlooking Sargent Pond. Quiñones said she wanted to open up the area of ​​the company’s venues next year to host events such as weddings and celebrations.

From one family to another

The restaurant changes hands from one family to another.

After being opened 71 years ago by the Nicas family, the Castle property was sold last month to Stephen Barrett, who rents the space from the Quiñones family. David Burwick, a broker at Glickman, Kovago and Jacobs who facilitated both the sale and subsequent rental of the property, said the sale took place when he was able to help Barrett and the Quiñones family find exactly each one. what they were looking for.

“I think it’s going to be great,” Burwick said of Castle Cantina. “I think their concept is going to be spectacular.”

Make the Château an experience

Quiñones and her husband have been in the restaurant business for over a decade, Quiñones said. She and Flores own Sparrow and Stone, a cafe on Main Street in Sturbridge, and Jose was previously a restaurant manager. Castle Cantina will be the couple’s first fully owned and operated restaurant.

“Our aim is to make the castle an experience and to follow in some way the memory of the Nicas family,” Quiñones said. “For so long this place was known for the experience they provided to the public and the way they served their people and the connections they made. The Nicasius had so many connections because they were so involved in the community. So we’re really hoping to continue doing this for the community. “

The legacy of the Nicas family

The castle was opened by Stanley and Helen Nicas, who built the restaurant using stones from the Worcester region and operated it as a family, with Stanley as executive chef in the kitchen with his sons, James and John, and Helen and her daughter Evangeline working the front of the house.

Quiñones said renovations are underway to brighten up the space, creating a friendlier and brighter interior for the restaurant. Another addition will be a memorial wall for the Nicas family, using artifacts purchased with the property, including Italian chestnut wood carvings from the Vanderbilt estates in Newport, Rhode Island.

James Nicas said the woodcarvings depict members of the Vanderbilt family throughout history, as well as two woodcarved statues depicting the tragedy and comedy of the Vanderbilt Carriage Houses. The masonry for the main dining room, outdoor patio and living room is from the old Worcester Public Library on Elm Street, the YWCA on Chatham Street and the buildings on Worcester Center Boulevard when they were demolished in the 1960s , said Nicas.

“Back then, no one was looking to save historic buildings the way they are today,” he said. “My family bought a lot of rubble and we spent a good part of the summer and fall pulling the old concrete from the stones so they can reuse it to build the restaurant.”

Historical pieces that are part of the charm of the castle

Other historic aspects of the restaurant include a 6-foot-high wrought-iron fence on the patio of the Frederick H. Prince Estate in Newport, a plaster sculpture of Apollo and his chariot from the Easton tearoom, two banners decorative elements in the red stone carved dining room of the old Worcester Public Library, solid Cypriot beams in the main dining room and living room of what was once the largest wooden structure in the United States and the hearthstone fireplace, which was the highest step in the Worcester Public Library.

Nicas said that when community members and friends of his family passed barns being demolished, they would stop to ask the farmer where the wood would be taken. If the farmers had no plans for the barn planks, people would tell him to bring it to Stanley Nicas at the castle, who would buy the barn planks to use for later construction.

Like at home

Nicas and his sister Evangeline decided to sell the restaurant to retire, and Nicas said he received around 200 emails wishing them good luck and expressing their sadness at the loss of such a beloved establishment.

“My mom had a million sayings, but she always said ‘It’s like your house. These people come into your house. Treat them like your guests and your family,’” Nicas said. “This is how my family ran the restaurant for 71 years.

Passing the torch of the castle from family to family, Nicas described Quiñones and his family as “true hospitality-oriented people”.

“These are some of the few people I’ve met who really understand what it’s like to be in the hospitality industry,” he said.

“I think the community is very excited about this,” said Flores. “We wanted to keep the restaurant almost original as it is. A lot of people have had a good experience here before. When they come back to the place there will be changes but it will always be as they remember so they can have memories of the past. “

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