Restaurant Notes extra: Hoppy Gnome-BakerStreet group to put Latin flair in The Golden space

Plans are to turn the space that was The Golden into a fine-dining Latin restaurant called Proximo. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)

It’s been hard for James Bashir A. Khan and his partners in Hoppy Gnome and BakerStreet Steakhouse to keep denying or avoid discussing any involvement in leasing the former Golden spot in Ash Skyline Plaza. However, because the papers were signed Friday, he now is legally free to discuss what’s Proximo.

Proximo, Spanish for “next,” aptly applies to what the group – Khan, Lysa Pelkington, and Peter Shuey with the addition of BakerStreet’s manager Ben Jones as general manager and Randy Fisher, BakerStreet’s sous chef, as chef – are doing.

“The theme of this restaurant is going to be Latin flavor,” Khan said.

The Golden was known for its farm-to-fork dishes in an upscale setting but closed after about a year and a half.

“We’re going to put in a fine dining restaurant that’s a different cuisine,” Khan said.

Before you get preconceived notions of an upscale taqueria, Khan describes it as a place that will be able to draw on a number of cuisines, including Brazilian, Chilean and Colombian. Probably 30 to 40 percent of the food will be seafood, including shrimp, sea bass and ceviche, and where food will be served on ivory china with silverware by a wait staff dressed all in black.

“We want to bring the same level of cuisine and service as at BakerStreet,” he said of the upscale restaurant at 4820 N. Clinton St. that he and Pelkington started with in 2009.

It will be open seven days a week and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, hopefully by summer. They’ll try to buy what equipment they’ll need from The Golden’s owners and probably take out a $1 million loan to do some remodeling of the interior, such as creating a private dining area on the Wayne Street side in the space that The Find formerly occupied. With city approval, they’d like to add a second patio area to the Harrison Street side.

The word proximo isn’t universally known so the name doesn’t come with any preconceived notions, he said.

While it will be “fine dining” and prices will reflect that, they also hope to make the prices reasonable.

“You can come and get some authentic dishes.”

Breakfast could be $4-$10 with some grab-and-go options such as oatmeal or a sit-down plate of chorizo and eggs; lunch might be $9-$13; and dinner around $30.

Customers should be familiar with a majority of the food, with about 40 percent being authentic Latin fare.

Khan, 38, a 1994 Harding High School graduate, says it’s an exciting time for his hometown’s downtown. The Electric Works in the former General Electric complex is near downtown, The Landing is being redeveloped, the large riverfront project has gotten started and more apartments are being built.

“More people will be moving downtown,” he said.

He’s happy that he and Pelkington, another city native, and their partners are investing in downtown’s future.

A fan of long leases, he’s planning on it being around for a while. BakerStreet has a 20-year lease, and the group just signed for 20 years for Hoppy Gnome at 203 E. Berry St. They have a 10-year lease for Proximo with options that could extend it to 20 years, which he hopes to use.

Have restaurant news? Call Lisa M. Esquivel Long at 260-461-8354, send email to lesquivel@news-sentinel.com or a fax to 260-461-8817 or write Restaurant Notes, C/O The News-Sentinel, PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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