The Dec. 2 opening of Easton's 3rd & Ferry Fish Market has been a longtime coming – five years, to be exact.
Husband and wife co-owners Mike and Rebecca Pichetto, who live on Easton's College Hill, came up with the concept of a casual New England-style seafood restaurant in 2008.
"We really wanted to be downtown," said Mike Pichetto, who has operated Vintage Restaurant and Bar in Williams Township with his wife for nearly nine years. "Vintage may have an Easton mailing address, but it doesn't share the same energy. Downtown, there's great foot traffic lending itself to a great restaurant scene, which includes our neighbors, Mesa and Sette Luna."
Construction on the former Lipkin's Furniture building, at 56 S. Third St., was on and off since 2009. Mike Pichetto labels structural issues, including shoring up the foundation and replacing deteriorated bricks with concrete, as the main reason for delay.
"Every cliche hurdle that a restaurant owner faces when renovating an old building was slapped in my face," Mike Pichetto said. "I am very relieved that it's over. It was the hardest thing our family has gone through to date — a big, expensive project."
The four-story building, which dates from the mid-1800s, now boasts a 165-seat restaurant on the first floor, as well as eight apartments on the floors above.
Aesthetic touches to the restaurant space include a 30-seat copper bar, refurbished hardwood floors, rustic faux trim painted by Williams Township artist Christa Wallow and framed local photographs by Easton photographer Laini Abraham.
An open-concept kitchen, separated from the dining room by just a countertop, is placed in the front of the building. Both guests and pedestrians on the sidewalk can marvel at the cooking done by executive chef Javan Small and his culinary team.
3rd & Ferry's food offerings differ from Vintage's menu, which Mike Pichetto describes as "rustic American, northern Italian and provincial French."
The seafood restaurant serves a wide variety of appetizers, including lobster mashed potatoes and fried calamari (classic or Rhode Island-style); entrees such as pan-seared scallops and poached Atlantic haddock; and raw-bar selections, such as oysters and middleneck clams.
"I love everything on the menu, but the fish and chips is hands down the best I've ever tasted in my life," said Mike Pichetto, who proudly notes the lack of a microwave on site.
Desserts include pies made by Aunt Jack's Baking of Williams Township, ice cream from Easton's Bank Street Creamery and the restaurant's signature pie and ice cream blends, known as "pie shakes."
The bar offers a lengthy list of wines, as well as various house-infused cocktails, including Freddy's Haunting (Jim Beam bourbon, honey-thyme syrup, pineapple juice and orange bitters).
For those who would rather cook themselves, the restaurant will do retail seafood starting in mid-January. A grand opening featuring live music and food samples also will be held next month.
3rd & Ferry Fish Market, offering both takeout and private party accommodations, is open every day except Monday. Info: 610-829-1404 or thirdandferry.com.
Staying on the topic of Easton restaurants, Valenca at 64-66 Center Square changed hands in mid-October.
New husband and wife co-owners Lee Kelechava and Meryl Cooper-Kelechava have introduced some changes at the downtown hot spot, including a happy hour featuring food and drink specials 5-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and an expanded brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Additionally, Lee Kelechava, who also owns Bethlehem Ford, and his wife are offering cooking classes and pop-up dinner parties featuring four- and five-course dinners. Info: 610-829-0360 or valencaonthesquare.com.
Thanks to tips from several Retail Watchers, including Sue Yekel of South Whitehall Township, I learned that the Arby's in the Village West shopping center on Tilghman Street in South Whitehall shuttered its doors Nov. 17.
With the fast-food chain closing a restaurant at 2585 Easton Ave. in Bethlehem (now a Checkers) a little more than a year ago, I sought an explanation for the recent Arby's closures in the Lehigh Valley.