Lombardi’s Seafood, the popular fishmonger, has long had a cafe component to go along with its retail market. Even in its former location, near the convergence of U.S. Highway 17-92, Harmon Avenue and Orange Avenue, there was a corner where one could grab a cup of chowder or seafood sandwich.
And when the market moved to Fairbanks Avenue in 2015, the new building had a more dedicated cafe space with seating inside and out. And owner Michael Lombardi had ambitious plans for the cafe, even at one time, just last year, hiring two well-known chefs, Austin Boyd and veteran sushi maker Yoshi Pintar.
But Lombardi’s Cafe never reached its full potential. In my most recent review, in August, I noted operational missteps that seemed rooted beyond the staffing issues currently plaguing so many restaurants.
Now Lombardi’s has closed the cafe. Instead, the space will be used to expand the market’s retail offerings, including prepared items, salads, produce and even meats, which it introduced a year ago. One of the cafe’s items, a lobster roll, is now offered in the market as do-it-yourself kit.
Boyd was hired, in part, to develop prepared items to be sold in the market. But he and Pintar, known to fans as Chef Yoshi, both left – amicably, according to Lombardi – Boyd joining Seito Sushi on Sand Lake Road and Chef Yoshi, briefly, signed on to open Illume. (Pintar left there before Illume opened.)