Window signs announce the future home of new Italian restaurant Pastaio in the building that formerly housed HopCat, 208 Fifth Ave.

Window signs announce the future home of new Italian restaurant Pastaio in the building that formerly housed HopCat, 208 Fifth Ave.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Italian restaurant, dance floor coming to shuttered HopCat location

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published December 21, 2021


ROYAL OAK — On Nov. 8, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously approved an Italian restaurant with a full-service bar and a second-floor nightclub called Pastaio to occupy the building that formerly housed HopCat, 208 W. Fifth St.

The menu will feature small plates, shareables, soups and salads, entrees, and pasta made from scratch in view of customers daily, with an anticipated food to alcohol ratio of 60% food to 40% alcohol. Pastaio proposes to be open for business in time for St. Patrick’s Day in March.

Pastaio will have approximately 14,000 usable square feet, with interior seating for 245 patrons — a reduction of 132 interior seats. The number includes 120 seats on the first floor, including 16 bar seats; 103 seats on the second floor, including 20 bar seats; and 22 seats on the rooftop, including 10 bar seats.

The city granted Pastaio’s request for a DJ on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as during special events. It also plans to offer live music, featuring local talent, during special events. The second-story dance floor will be approximately 375 square feet and will be located adjacent to the existing bar, according to a city memo.

The applicants will perform renovations, including substantial cosmetic updates and the renovation of operating equipment, for an expected cost of approximately $600,000, according to the memo.

The proposed hours of operation are Sundays from 10 a.m. to midnight, Mondays to Wednesdays from noon to midnight, and Thursdays to Saturdays from noon to 2 a.m.

The applicants include the former landlord of HopCat, as well as commercial real estate developers and Pasquale Lamarra, an experienced restaurateur with more than 20 years in the industry, according to the memo.

Lamarra’s current restaurants include Meating Street Seafood & Steakhouse in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and two Pastaio locations in Port St. Lucie and Palm City, Florida.

During the Nov. 8 City Commission meeting, Lamarra said he and his colleagues in Florida were asked to come and check out Royal Oak for a possible business opportunity.

“We kind of fell in love with the area,” he said. “This is a great area and what we do would fit perfectly in this community.”

He said his team has been with him for 12 years and is experienced with training new talent to continue growing the business. He described Pastaio as welcoming to all ages, with an old-world Italian feel and reasonably priced menu.

“One thing is for certain: people love carbs. That’s what we do. Our handmade pasta is made basically in front of you. You see it made. There’s no lying about it,” Lamarra said. “Nothing is store-bought. We make everything fresh by hand. Our crew from Florida will teach the new crew.”

He added that part of his brand includes supporting the community however it can.

“It sounds like a really cool concept. I think you picked excellently here in Royal Oak. If you haven’t noticed, we have a lot of stuff going on,” Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said. “I think you’re going to find that just within walking distance there’s tens of thousands of people that migrate towards town and look for good, quality places to dine and have fun and sometimes dance.”