Luigi's leaves Cherry Street


On Saturday, Sept. 3, Luigi’s Bistro closed its doors to make way for a new sports bar, ‘The Bearfoot Tavern.’ The Bearfoot has been a developing concept for the past six months by Luigi’s owner, Cesare Mammarella. The renovations for the new bar began after Luigi’s closing.
Employees and customers thought Luigi’s was gone for good when the announcement came Aug. 27 about the closing.
However, this is not the case, and the reason for the change was due to the sheer restricting size of the current location. The kitchen and bar are too small for the style of dining the Italian-American menu offers.
The restaurant, located on Cherry Street, is a three-time Foodie winner for Best Italian Cuisine.
“Luigi’s Bistro Downtown has been a cultural icon for Macon for the last nine years,” said employee, Suzannah Griffin. “The authenticity of the venue and its marvelous menu has left customers satisfied for almost a decade and as an employee of the restaurant it has grown near and dear to my heart.”
The bar taking Luigi’s place took shape after Mammarella performed his own first-hand research on his potential customers.

“Half my staff are students and I’m always asking them about what is missing in downtown,” Mammarella said. The answer was a sports bar, a place to hang out, have a few drinks and watch games.
The Bearfoot Tavern is scheduled to open in mid-October for the football season. The Tavern is catering towards the Mercer crowd, offering up a fun menu that will showcase a variety of different bar foods, including burgers, wings and tacos.
The renovations of the location will include a larger bar and a cocktail area. The Wine Cellar, the intimate private dining room within Luigi’s, will remain open within Bearfoot. Mammarella is the creator of Hotplates Restaurant Group, which, along with Luigi’s Bistro, owns Dolce Vita and The Tic Toc Room.  All three locations have been popular downtown hotspots for locals and students for many years.
Other Mammarella businesses include Asylum and Jack and Coat Clothiers.
The Bearfoot Tavern is one of two restaurants to be opened this year by Mammarella.
Ginger, a Mongolian-inspired grill, will open on the corner of Second St. and Poplar. “The grill will expose a hip and fast- paced dining experience most of Atlanta and the nation’s largest cities have grown accustomed to,” Griffin said. “The menu includes preset dishes as well as a build-your- own Mongolian grill line that includes more sauces than one could ever imagine.”
Mammarella had been creating the idea for the past eight years, but waited until he thought Macon was ready for such a unique style of dining.
Mammarella’s bold moves to renovate and create new stores are supported by quality knowledge of other downtown developments such as the lofts opening on Poplar, right around Ginger.
“You need to think bigger than yourself,” Mammarella said of his business strategy. “You may lose money at first, but your return in the future will be greater.”