After a year of vacancy, Torino's former restaurant and bar space is getting a second chance under a new operator. Chef Matthew Baldridge (Dinner Club Pop-Up, Atomic Chicken) confirms to Eater that he is moving his preservation dining concept The Conserva Ferndale to 201 E Nine Mile. Unlike the Torino which was forced to close by the health department due to the prohibitively small kitchen, The Conserva's main dishes (pickled vegetables, fruits, marinated meats cooked sous-vide, and more) will be prepared and stored in jars at a commercial kitchen offsite.
Baldridge told Eater in February that he was exploring the option of signing a lease for the East Nine Mile space after running into unexpected and expensive buildout issues at his original 310 West Nine Mile site. Opening in that location was further complicated by new rules and fees tied to liquor licences that were introduced by the City of Ferndale last fall.
Through the landlord-tenant agreement Baldridge will be able to operate his restaurant under Torino's liquor license, while making very minimal aesthetic changes to the restaurant. Diners can expect a fresh coat of paint and new "three-dimensional art pieces on the walls" — Baldridge's brother and his wife and partner Janna Coumoundouros are both talented artists. Meanwhile, Baldridge and Coumoundouros will continue to buildout the 310 West Nine Mile space for use as an as-of-yet unnamed art gallery and pop-up dining venue.
Speaking with Baldridge by phone this afternoon the chef was on the way to the new space to begin cleaning and preparing it for some upcoming pop-up events. "I’m going to slowly start introducing pieces of Conserva with these pop-up dinners," Baldridge adds. Dinner Club Pop-Up will host its first event in the restaurant on June 18. That initial dinner will be followed by weekly events on Fridays and Saturdays in the six to eight weeks leading up to the opening such as bar snack tastings and chef-driven dinners. The Conserva Ferndale aims to open by late July.