Asian fusion restaurant to open in old Gajah Wong space in Northside

When Nick Andersen moved from Mason to Northside this winter he had no idea he would be knee deep in restaurant renovations within a few short months. But the sushi chef was won-over by Northside's charm, so when he discovered the unique restaurant space vacated by Gajah Wong on Spring Grove Avenue he decided he would open his first restaurant there by the end of the summer.

"I got swept up with the effort that everyone here was putting into the community, and when I found this space I saw an opportunity to do my part," Andersen said.

Andersen's business partners are a British couple who were his most loyal customers as the chef of Bistro Ginza in Mason.  His new restaurant, Painted Fish, will be an Asian fusion restaurant serving espresso, lunch during the day and an eclectic dinner menu at night. Once the restaurant secures a liquor license, Andersen will open a martini bar inside and a tiki bar in the garden. It will operate as a BYOB restaurant until then.

Painted Fish will host concerts on a stage in the garden, and a room inside will be devoted to local artwork. The entire restaurant will be available for private parties. Andersen said that Northside community members encouraged him open a restaurant that would accommodate different budgets, so The Painted Fish will offer affordable menu items and inexpensive drinks in addition to steaks, seafood and specialty sushi rolls. He hopes the restaurant will be part of the upscale dining renaissance in Northside, but also a place where the community can congregate and meet each other, he said. 

Painted Fish will open at 3937 Spring Grove Avenue on what Andersen calls the "South Block," a stretch of mostly vacant storefronts just around the corner from a bevy of eateries, shops and nightlife spots on Hamilton.  Andersen sees potential in the block, and points out boarded-up storefronts that are bustling with renovation work inside. One neighbor is opening an art gallery, and another will open a restaurant. The Northside Business Association recently purchased a lot on the block for free public parking, and buildings of condominiums were recently renovated with the help of grant money.  Andersen hopes that his new restaurant and its shady garden will help pave the way for other redevelopment in the area.

"I really think the South Block is the next big thing to happen in Northside," Andersen said. "It's a natural progression."

Writer: Henry Sweets
Photography by Scott Beseler
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