CLAYTON — Mulberry on Main, an Italian restaurant on Main Street, is no longer serving lunch and dinner.
But owners Gennarino and Bernadette Gubitosi are still preparing traditional Italian fare. The former restaurant is now a place for private parties and events.
With exposed brick and tall ceilings, the space lends itself to big events like wedding receptions. After a makeover, a wall no longer divides the space into two areas. Also, a small room in the back is now a bridal suite with a vanity dresser and room for the bridal party to gather.
“We’re trying to look more to the future,” Bernadette Gubitosi said.
The Gubitosis have been in the restaurant business since the 1980s. They lived for many years in New Jersey, where they owned an Italian eatery. Their Clayton restaurant was open for five years.
Gubitosi said she and her husband had seen a downward trend in people dining out, and they expect renting out the space will prove profitable. Some events, such as wine tastings, will be open to the public.
Welcoming guest chefs
The Gubitosis also plan to open their space to “pop-up restaurants.” A pop-up restaurant, more common in large cities, is where a chef rents the kitchen of a restaurant for a night and serves up food like it’s his own space.
It’s ideal for a chef who doesn’t own a restaurant but wants to try it out. The chef creates the menu, and the restaurant owners help advertise it.
This summer, a chef from Second Empire in Raleigh rented the Mulberry space for a Sunday brunch. Gubitosi said she and her husband would love to host more chefs.
“This way people in Clayton don’t have to go all the way to Raleigh; they can have something different coming through here,” she said.
The Gubitosis are hopeful the customer base they built over the past five years will remain loyal to the space despite the change. Eventually they’d like to host live music or comedy.
After being closed for three months this summer, the space is back open for business. For an event with 40 to 50 people, the cost to rent the space is $2,000. That’s for the whole package, including food, chairs and linens.