A massive second story is being built on top of the Main Street Tower restaurant in downtown Bel Air, which will allow the restaurant to host events on its top level all year round.
"All the entertainment is going to be held up here, to make sure that our guests on the main floor, they're not going to be disturbed by the entertainment, by the noise, by the football," Renato Buontempo, owner of the Tower, said while giving a tour of the second story Saturday.
Buontempo plans a soft opening in mid-August, followed by a grand opening in the fall. Construction started Feb. 6, he said.
The Tower holds a number of off-site catering events, but the second story will allow Buontempo to hold many more caterings on site. The second story will also have space for live entertainment, a bar and restrooms.
He noted the Tower, which has been serving Sunday brunches for 10 years, will serve breakfast every day once the second story is finished.
"We will do breakfast, lunch, dinner, nightlife and catering," Buontempo said.
The Tower, which is in the former home of Bel Air's Red Fox restaurant at 29 S. Main St., is a popular downtown restaurant, bar and nightlife spot.
Buontempo, who is also the co-owner of the downtown Bel Air Buontempo Bros. pizza shop, has owned the Tower since it opened in 2002.
The restaurant operators put a tent over the building's rooftop deck for special events, which allowed patrons to gather on the roof during cold or inclement weather, until stopped by the Town of Bel Air with an ordinance approved by the town commissioners in May of 2013.
The town ordinance prohibited the erection of temporary "cable-restrained, air-supported structures, temporary membrane-covered cable structures and temporary membrane-covered frame structures" on rooftops in accordance with state fire prevention codes, The Aegis reported in early 2014.
Buontempo noted Saturday that he was able to get town and county approvals for the enclosed second story.
"I have no problem with the town or the county ... we got approved and we're going forward," he said.
The enclosed second story means the Tower will not have to lay off employees during the slower winter month, Buontempo said. About 50 people work at the restaurant — he noted business has been a bit slow during construction.
The Tower could have at least 100 year-round employees once the second story is finished, he said.
The exterior of the second story, which covers the length of the building, is nearing completion — workers could be seen Saturday putting the finishing touches on stucco on the front of the building facing Main Street.
Construction work continues on the interior of the second story, which is accessible via a stairway from the reception area at the front entrance — it is the same stairs patrons used to get to the rooftop deck.
"This area here, we just used it when the weather permitted," Buontempo said. "Now, we don't have to worry about the weather."
The enclosure comes with roll-up doors facing Main Street. The doors can be opened on days when the weather is nice, giving patrons "that warm feeling that you are outside, like you are on vacation," Buontempo said.
The Tower's first level includes a bar, dining areas and a small outdoor dining area adjacent to the parking lot.
Catered events have been held in the large rear dining area in the past.
The rear area will be set aside for "white tablecloth dining," and the front area and bar will be open for casual dining, once the second story is complete, according to Buontempo.
Entertainment, such as live music or karaoke, will continue on the first floor, according to Buontempo.
"The whole building, it will be serving multiple purposes," he said.
Randie McConnell is the owner of Faye Daniel Designs, one of five businesses that share the K&B Bridals building at 24 S. Main St., directly across from the Tower.
She had stepped outside Saturday afternoon, and she asked an Aegis reporter when construction would be done at the Tower.
"After work it's nice to be able to go over, especially in the summer time," she said.
McConnell said the addition to the restaurant could help other downtown businesses, because Tower patrons can see neighboring businesses on Main Street.
"Anything new on Main Street always comes back to helping us," she said.