Shakespeare and Co. is becoming a Shakespearean empire.
The downtown restaurant with Victorian décor and cozy couches is expanding, and the chain is adding two new locations in Lexington.
The restaurant on Broadway and Short Street, the first U.S. location of the Dubai-based chain, is being renovated and will be able to offer private dining space for about 150 people, said Mark Chaffins, controller for Shakespeare and Co. in the United States.
The company was founded by Dubai businessman Edward Saad, who earned a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Kentucky. There are more than a dozen Shakespeare and Co. franchises in the United Arab Emirates.
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But that's just the beginning: The company has leased the space now occupied by Rossi's Restaurant in Chinoe Center and has bought almost two acres near Malone's at Hamburg Place, where the company will build a Shakespeare and Co. and another restaurant, yet to be identified.
The company also is opening Pita Social, a fresh-made sandwich place with homemade pita bread, on Bryant Road, Chaffins said. Pita Social is expected to open in early November.
"I've been busy the last couple of months," Chaffins said.
Rossi's announced this week that it will have a "friends and family finale, with a special menu" on Thursday, the restaurant's last night.
Rossi's opened 14 years ago in Chevy Chase, in the space currently occupied by The Dish. Nine years ago, it moved to the former home of Pacific Pearl in Chinoe Center, said Rossi's manager Josh Whalen.
Whalen said there are currently no plans to reopen, although the owners, who also own Suggins and The Tulip, both on Romany Road, have looked for another location.
Chaffins said Shakespeare and Co.'s renovation of the Chinoe space will begin this fall. He said the company is looking to open the front of the building and plans to have an outdoor bar on the patio. The Chinoe location probably will open in January, he said.
The décor will be similarly ornate.
"No two Shakespeares are exactly alike in design," Chaffins said. "It will still be colorful; there will still be couches. And the same menu and same hours."
The Hamburg version will probably be open sometime in 2015, he said. The other restaurant will be decided in the next few months.