PAWCATUCK — A new owner is cleaning up the deteriorated Fuji Garden property with a vision toward creating a music and dining club geared toward the 50-plus crowd.
Standing in the parking lot at 215 Liberty St. with a leaf-blower strapped to his back, Richard Mann, 57, of Westerly, said Tuesday his $400,000 full-price offer for the 3.36-acre property and building was accepted a month ago, immediately after it went on the market.
The owner is Jacques Faulise, of North Kingstown, who bought the property in July 2004. Stonington land records list Giacchino Anthony Faulise as the owner as of March 1968, with ownership transferred to the Estate of Giacchino Faulise in February 2003.
The 10,000-square-foot restaurant and club was constructed in 1983. It was once Rosalini’s restaurant and then became a steakhouse, a sports bar and, briefly, a strip club, Mann said.
Envisioning a music and dining club where the music would start and end on the early side, Mann said the venue would be geared toward customers who don’t stay up past midnight.
“They’re not coming here to drink, they’re coming here to eat and for the show,” he said. “That’s the theme, this would be more for a grownup crowd.”
He said he doesn’t intend to compete with area restaurants or venues but wants to offer an alternative, with an emphasis on dinner and entertainment.
“We’re not taking from anyone’s business, we’re just adding a venue that might attract people,” he said. “We want to have good food but simple food. Let’s say on a Friday night, you come for the fish and chips and then there’s a ’50 band or something. Or you can come later and just pay for the show, but to have it like a dinner show and it would end at 11 p.m.”
He said comedy shows and musicals could be part of the mix, and the venue could be rented for weddings and functions.
He said he plans to fix the interior but will not redesign it. The building has a stage, a dance floor, a bar, and a separate function room.
Out back he wants to have an area for playing horseshoes and cornhole and hanging out with friends around a fire pit.
Mann said he’s never run a club or a restaurant and he’s putting the word out for people who have the expertise, especially a chef who might want to own the place.
The property will require extensive cleaning up inside and out, but it’s exactly the type of work Mann said he enjoys.
“I like taking something that’s a mess and making it really beneficial to somebody,” he said, surveying the weeds and debris in the parking lot. “Even if someone came in here and offered me double my money to do something, I wouldn’t want to do that. I’d rather set someone up that always wanted a place and needs that help to make it happen. That’s a big part of me.”
He hopes to assemble a team of experts.
“To get the right people, the right team, involved to make all this happen, where we can take a rundown, crummy-looking property and turn it into something that the town and the people are really proud of — that’s my vision,” he said.
With that, Mann pulled the start cord on the leaf blower and went back to work cleaning up the parking lot.
For more information, contact Richard Mann at 401-241-1682