GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — The Town of Greece has a new restaurant, Cotoletta. It’s open everyday except Monday. The Italian restaurant is in Elm Ridge Center in Greece, a plaza that has seen significant revitalization in the past two years.

Cotoletta is a throwback Italian casual eatery. The owner of the new restaurant, Jay Speranza, also owns Rochester staple Tony D’s.

“I want[ed] something that looks like it was operating in Brooklyn in 1977, but was probably built in 1954,” Speranza said. True to his vision, the restaurant is covered with reds (like their counters) greens (like the chairs), and whites.

A massive painting satirically combining high art and causal food adorns the inside wall. Records and old photos line the opposite wall.

Cotoletta means “cutlet” in Italian, and as such, it has a casual menu with a lot of options around breaded chicken cutlets. Speranza says it’s supposed to feel like a neighborhood spot, too.

“[It’s] unpretentious, real classic kind of Italian-American casual food,” he said. “The type of place you can just drop in, have a cold beer, or wine.”

Elm Ridge Center has seen significant revitalization in the past two years. In 2021, Jay Wegman and his company, Wegman Companies, closed on the space.

He says since then, the plaza has gone from 20% occupancy to 94%. In the space now is everything from restaurants like Cotoletta, a cheerleading school, Walmart, a beauty school, manufacturing with Paneffort, and more.

“It’s a well-located plaza, people knew about the plaza,” he said of the Center’s success. He also said Greece’s work to fix the roads and parking lots in the plaza has significantly helped.

And while the line is always location, location, location, Scott Copey, Greece’s Director of Planning & Economic Development, says with the town of Greece also this was about rezoning, rezoning, rezoning.

It’s part of the town’s plan to develop, and reduce sprawl.

“We’re trying to reuse existing floor space, we’ve enacted some new zoning permissions that allow for some adaptive reuse of spaces,” Copey said.

And through that zoning, Wegman says it has allowed local businesses to thrive. While there are some national stores, around 80% of the stores in the plaza are local.

“[The rezoning] created opportunities for businesses that are now thriving,” he said. While they hope to land on as close to 100% occupancy as they can, Wegman says his next step is to solidify the courtyard Cotoletta is in.