LIMA — After two months of renovations, The Met restaurant and bar has reopened in downtown Lima.
The newly renovated establishment, located at 306 N. Main St., features a menu with 14 new items, an additional dining room, larger kitchen and refinished bar.
The most noticeable change to the menu is the addition of fried foods. The Met now sells fried cauliflower, a southern-fried shrimp po boy, house fries, house-fried tortilla chips and more. Along with the fried options, patrons may now order roasted pimento cheese dip, a spicy shrimp flatbread and stuffed chicken breasts, among other new items.
In addition, the restaurant-bar has created a daily soup rotation that combines classic options such as homemade chicken noodle and clam chowder with a third soup that changes daily.
For owner Rob Nelson, the new menu is an eclectic mix of old and new.
“It’s a balance between giving people new things and maintaining their favorites,” Nelson said.
The new dining room has more of a lounge atmosphere, with large, red-leather couches and easy chairs situated between traditional seating arrangements. So far, the dining room has seven tables. Eventually, Nelson said they may add more tables that will bring the seating capacity up to 70 patrons.
“You won’t walk in right now and say, ‘you can fit 70 more people in here,’ but we’ll get there,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to ease into it with this new dining room.”
Along with the new dining area, The Met created additional seating in its back and side rooms. In all, Nelson hopes they will be able to serve more than 200 customers at one time.
To ensure its cooks are able to handle the added seating, the restaurant-bar doubled the size of its kitchen and tripled the number of cooking surfaces. Nelson also hired eight more employees to handle what he assumes will be an increased workload due to the expansion.
Another new addition is Sunday brunch. The Met has always featured a Saturday brunch, but Nelson said it’s been so successful that they wanted to expand. He said the brunch menu will change each month, which allows for a wide variety of food and drink possibilities.
“I just think The Met screams Sunday brunch,” Nelson said. “It’s one of our biggest changes in 2017, and I think it’s going to be very successful.”
Nelson added that he is hopeful The Met’s new look will help enhance the downtown experience.
“We’re working not just to prepare food for people,” he said, “but to change their perceptions about our city and our county.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.