SNEAK PEEK: The Place Downstairs set to open in March - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SNEAK PEEK: The Place Downstairs set to open in March

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's no doubt, Louisville is a foodie town. Just take the example of successful restaurants owners who are planning to open their fourth restaurant in two years.

The dining room is ready for the upscale restaurant called The Place Downstairs, which is located downstairs from The Mussel and Burger Bar on Taylorsville Road. It's the vision of Fernando Martinez, who opened two other restaurants that he has since sold to family members.

"We started with Havana Rumba, a really small place in St. Matthews. We had like 15 tables back then," Martinez said.

He says the restaurant then expanded and "we opened Mojitos a few years after that."

Together with his wife, his cousin and a silent partner, The Place Downstairs will be their fourth new restaurant in two years. The kitchen is still under construction.

They also own Guaca Mole, Mussel and Burger Bar and El Taco Luchador.

When WDRB asked Martinez what is the key of his success, Martinez responded, "I get that question asked a lot. There is no secret to what we do -- really hard work."

He says the owners are really present in the restaurants.

"We work 80-90 hours a week. We hire good people, that's key."

This 54-seat restaurant will open Wednesday through Saturdays for dinner only. The emphasis is modern cuisine, but not stuffy. Diners won't even find table cloths.

"Using French techniques, Spanish ingredients, we're doing a mix of Spanish, French, Mediterranean cuisine," Martinez said.

Chef Ethan Ray is excited about this new venture. He just moved back to Louisville after helping open the 21C Hotel in Cincinnati. His focus is on fresh quality ingredients.

"Maybe our farmers are bringing in different vegetables and we really want to showcase and highlight that. We really juxtapose it out and everything will be in a constant state of evolution," Ray said.

Martinez says Mussel and Burger Bar, upstairs in the same building, has been their most successful restaurant so far.

But there is no slowing down for the restaurant owners.

"I think our next concept is going to be tapas and we're looking around Westport Village and we're looking at a place right now. But, we'll see what happens until next year when we're ready to do it," Martinez said.

The Place Downstairs officially opens on March 5.

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