February 13, 2014
Amelia’s revamped as bar and grill
Owners of former restaurant have turned it into SideLine Grill and Tap Room
As of Tuesday, Amelia’s Ristorante is a thing of the past and SideLine Grill and Tap Room, as it is now referred to, occupies the site at 152 Port Watson St. in Cortland.
But long-time customers need not worry about an unfamiliar owner or enquire about what to expect, because though the overall ambiance of the restaurant has changed, owner Brian Norwood and his family have made sure their hospitality remained intact.
On Wednesday afternoon, Norwood and his sons were in the kitchen prepping for the impending crush of Syracuse University basketball fans who would soon fill the remodeled dining room for the regular season game while his father, Carl “Butchy” Norwood was proud to show off the restaurant’s new image.
Butchy Norwood said public opinion influenced the changes, and that the goal was to expand the restaurant’s customer base and to get some of the people who typically eat out downtown to come down to SideLine.
“A lot of interest was placed on a sports bar — that type of atmosphere,” Norwood said. “Someplace they could come and be more casual. That’s what we’re trying to give them, to make things comfortable and to bring people down.”
Bartender and waitress Kellie Maher has been working at the restaurant for three years. She said just a year ago, someone coming to the restaurant for the first time would have walked into a completely different environment.
“It was more like kind of a romantic setting before,” Maher said. “I think he was just looking for something a little bit different.”
Seven large flat-screen televisions ring the dining room, with a pool table at its center. Sports equipment and memorabilia hang on the walls. The carpeting has been removed, exposing the building’s original hardwood floor, and the space has been opened up, with a door allowing customers easy access to the newly dubbed Tap Room.
Amelia’s closed on Feb. 1 and a week of renovations preceded the opening of the new business.
As part of the changes, SideLine now opens at 11 a.m. for lunch and there have been changes to the menu. For instance, people can expect fewer sautés and more hot sandwiches and spaghetti dinners.
But homemade items like French fries, pizza and mozzarella sticks are still prepared by hand in Brian Norwood’s kitchen. Maher said that although the menu is different, the quality of the food has not changed, and the people who have come in since the rebranding seem to agree.
“Everybody’s loved the food.” Maher said. “I think lunches have done really well (and) once the people realize that it’s open and they come in and try the food, they’ll love it.”
As for the future, Norwood said his goal is to reach out to as many members of the community as possible. There are plans in the works for SideLine to become a new venue for local pool and dart leagues.
But for now, Norwood said he and his family are happy with the restaurant’s new atmosphere, and that the name does not matter, so long as customers are comfortable and his son is doing what he loves.
“It was sad to see Amelia’s go down, but it was heart-warming to see SideLine signs go up,” Norwood said, “because Brian’s still involved; he’s still living his dream ... so we’re trying to keep it alive.”
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