Martian-Themed Eatery to Open in N.Y.

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NEW YORK -- Just when you thought it was safe to visit Times Square comes word that Martians are moving in.

An Irish firm said it is building a 400-seat theme restaurant near Times Square that simulates a trip to the red planet. Mars 2112 will be located in a 35,000-square-foot space at 1633 Broadway at 51st Street. The $12 million restaurant, which is scheduled to open in July, will feature a 200-seat Martian-themed microbrewery, shops selling Martian memorabilia and galactic entertainment. Before sitting down to their meals, visitors will be taken on a five-minute simulated journey to Mars aboard a 22-seat spaceship that travels through a worm hole, visits the Mir space station and lands on the moon.

Paschal Phelan, chairman of the Kilkenny, Ireland-based Mars 2112 Group Ltd., said he owns real estate and meat processing interests in Ireland, the U.K. and eastern Europe. He said he came up with the idea for Mars 2112 after market research revealed that the public was losing its appetite for theme restaurants that served poor-quality food and offered little to do while waiting for a table.

Food industry and restaurant analysts say that across the country, developers of theme restaurants are scaling back plans to build so-called dinnertainment venues. The analysts report that the more successful theme restaurants are those in very large, densely populated areas that have significant tourist attractions -- places such as New York, Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla.

"Our motto is 'You come for the experience and you come back for the food,' " Phelan said. Instead of the ubiquitous chicken fingers and chili burgers, Mars 2112 will serve up "universal fusion cooking," including Thai-style sushi, Asian chicken salads and grilled sesame-crusted pork chops, Phelan said. Entrees will be priced under $14, with the average dinner tab totaling under $20 per person, including drinks, he said.

Phelan said Mars 2112 will benefit from the expertise of seasoned professionals, including chief executive officer Steven Micheletti, formerly with the Rain Forest Cafe chain; general manager Michael Hocter, formerly with the All-Star Cafe in Times Square, and executive chef Steven Goodwin, formerly with California Cafe in the Napa Valley. The restaurant was designed by Daroff Design in Philadelphia.

Related link: Daroff Design.

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