Indy restaurateur Arturo Di Rosa decided to attend an auction about three years ago to buy some kitchen equipment at a bar that closed in Granger.
But he ended up with much more than that.
Di Rosa purchased the building out of foreclosure.
For months after the sale, the former JT's Sports Bar, also known for years as the Sports Page, sat idle just south of the KOA campground. That's because Di Rosa initially wanted to sell the free-standing building.
Then he had a change of mind and heart.
Di Rosa, who exhibits a clear passion for independent restaurant design and operations, recently opened Capri Italian Restaurant at 50827 Princess Way.
"I don't open boxes," he says about cookie-cutter chains and franchises. Di Rosa, who studied the culinary arts in Salerno, also owns a Capri restaurant that serves traditional homemade Italian fare in Indianapolis.
And Di Rosa studied the neighborhood demographics and did not worry about the lack of motorists passing directly in front of his building.
"I'm bottled in between buildings in Indianapolis, so this location is actually better than the other one," he says. "They will find us."
He wrote the book "Capri: The Flavors of Italian Tradition" in 2009 and is the brain behind not only Capri but also Amalfi and Matteo's, two other Indy restaurants owned by his brothers.
He does not play favorites when he gets to talking about the similarities among his restaurant concepts.
"They all have different settings and food, but the foundation is pretty much the same. It's like a mother who has five children. Every one is different but she loves them all the same," he says.
Di Rosa, who spent years working in restaurants and in the hospitality industry aboard a cruise line before moving to the U.S., says he knew at 17 or 18 years old that he wanted to own his own restaurant someday.
He says he just "liked the business" and the people he met, but the operator demonstrates a clear understanding about what customers want and has a keen eye for detail. He played an instrumental role in Capri's floor plan and design.
"You have to figure out how the customer thinks," Di Rosa says. "They want good food and it's up to us to deliver the product they want. If your restaurant has the best service, customers connect that with the best food."
Capri Granger debuted quietly earlier this month without fanfare -- just how Di Rosa planned.
"We snuck in on everybody, just how we wanted to," says Angela Vasquez, Capri general manager.
The 120-seat restaurant opens for dinner at 3 p.m. seven days per week. Main entrees generally range from $14 to $30. Di Rosa suggests diners ask about the feature of the day, which will include dishes such veal osso buco and risotto with quail, shrimp, sausage or rabbit.
A banquet room that will hold up to another 120 diners is still under construction and should be open for the holidays.
Only two specially shaped pastas are not made from scratch at Capri. Everything else, from the sauces to the soups to the mozzarella cheese, is homemade. Wine and dessert menus are also available to complete a meal.
"From the Sinatra, classic-type music overhead to the food and atmosphere, there's definitely a feeling here. From the minute you walk in, you know you're going to have a good experience," Vasquez explains. "You want to take your time to dine and experience all of it."
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Heidi Prescott's column runs in the South Bend Tribune on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. When she's not shopping, contact her at email@example.com or 574-235-6070. You can also talk retail at Facebook.com/thebasket and at Twitter.com/marketbasket.