Marion signed a lease for the neighboring office space and is now going through a quarter-million dollar expansion project.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Every year, Luke Marion says there is no way he could fit more people inside Otto's Breakfast and Deli.
But every year, the chef and restaurant owner somehow manages to do it. The restaurant's business has been growing at a rate of nearly 20 percent annually.
And now, he definitely needs more space.
"Otto's itself has been going strong since 2011 and every year we have been ramping it up," Marion said on Tuesday.
This spring, the restaurant is tripling its size. Otto's is taking over the former office space occupied by Bardwell, Bowlby & Karam Insurance Agency Inc. right next door. The quarter-million-dollar expansion will double the amount of seating and triple the amount of space.
And, the breakfast and lunch place will now be serving dinner now, too.
"It is still going to be the same Otto's everybody knows and loves. We just need the extra space," Marion said.
The former insurance offices have been demolished and Otto's will be building out the additional 2,000 square-feet in the coming months.The renovations include new seating, a large bar, a new prep kitchen, and new appliances.
In March, Marion is planning on closing down the existing Otto's for three to four weeks, renovating that space, too, knocking down the wall separating the two units, and then reopen the larger restaurant in April.
"I don't want to be closed any longer than I have to," Marion said.
The expansion will double the seating from 40 to between 80 and 90. The kitchen equipment will be expanded for greater capacity. And Otto's will be hiring around a dozen new employees.
Marion has already hired a new breakfast chef and he will be heading the dinner service. It will be open for dinner all seven nights of the week, with hours expected to be 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.
For dinners, Marion said the menu is one built to change regularly depending on what ingredients are available from local farmers. But the general theme is going to be "contemporary comfort." The farm-to-table dinner menu will have a bit of a Southern flair and feature items such as gumbo, shrimp alfredo Navarre, and stuffed poblano peppers.
The project will add 2,000 square feet to the restaurant.
He said comfort food is different for everyone so the menu will change frequently.
"It's not a white tablecloth place and it will never be," Marion said.
Otto's is also purchasing the liquor license from the former Casey's Billiards and will be expanding its beverage options.
Currently, the breakfast place serves mimosas and bloody marys on a seasonal license but will soon feature 20 to 25 beers, a half dozen or so house wines and some nicer wines to sell by the bottle. They'll also be selling cocktails.
"We're going to be as unpretentious as possible," Marion said of the cocktail offerings he has planned.
The expansion is a big move for Marion, who purchased Otto's from its previous owner in 2015. Otto's committed to a new lease for five years, with a five-year option to extend.
"It's a pretty big project," Marion said.
The original Otto's was opened in Lee in 2011, when Marion started working there. In 2014, a second Otto's was opened on East Street, right on Park Square and Marion purchased it the following year. The Lee Otto's has since closed.
Since that 2014 opening, Marion said business has continually increased and when the insurance company moved out, he saw it as an opportunity to grow even more.
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