Robin Fernandez was surprised at how fast word spread about Lula, a new American-inspired tapas restaurant in the heart of Sewickley.
The restaurant owner had a soft opening on Nov. 1 and celebrated its grand opening over the weekend with a ribbon cutting.
“It’s really working well and the response has been really positive,” said owner Fernandez, a Sewickley resident. “People seem to like what we’ve done.”
The tapas restaurant at 515 Broad St. emphasizes good food, good wine and good conversation. Lula serves appetizers on a small plate, offering diners a variety of familiar dishes at a modest price. Mouth-watering dinner plates range from seared scallops, spicy tuna tartar, a cheese plate or a petite filet of beef with fig sauce.
Putting an American flavor on the traditional Spanish tapas bar, Lula carries an array of Cabernets, Zinfandels and other California wines by the glass or bottle. For those a little more versed in wine, the restaurant will uncork a bottle from its premium list—ranging from $60 to $600 a bottle. Beers, champagnes and specialty cocktails are also available, along with some Italian, French and Spanish wines.
So far, Lula is proving to be popular for booking private parties and to-go orders. And recently, the business began serving a limited lunch menu—four salads, three sandwiches and a daily soup.
“Our whole goal is to keep it as simple as possible with the highest quality. We don’t try to get too fancy,” he said.
The cozy restaurant is designed with a living room-style feel to make customers feel comfortable while engaging in great conversation. Fernandez said the whole concept was to create an enjoyable environment and the name Lula was chosen because it seemed fun and whimsical.
“People can relax and enjoy some good conversation, good food and some really good wine and cocktails without having to spend a fortune,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez knows something about making things fun. He previously owned the landmark Pittsburgh nightclubs Rosebud and Metropol in the Strip District and later sold them after his children were born. He continues to operate the Downtown club Bossa Nova.
Fernandez moved to Sewickley nearly two years ago and always had a liking for the location previously occupied by the Naked Grape. When the Naked Grape decided not to renew its lease, Fernandez got together with some people and purchased the business. His partners at Lula are Kim Grinkala, Ted Arneault and Chuck Hammel.
As the business explores new marketing ideas, Fernandez said they are considering a night for ladies featuring $5 wines and $5 martinis. Since opening, Fernandez said Lula has attracted a strong female clientele.
“It has become sort of a meeting place for the ladies,” he said.
Also being considered is a men’s night offering a variety of scotch and bourbon and a Spanish night featuring wines from Spain, and lots of visual artistry such as cheese slicing or hand carving a leg of Iberian or Serrano ham in the dining room.
Lula is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. until the bar closes. The kitchen closes nightly between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. depending upon business. Visit online at www.lulasewickley.com.