PITTSFIELD -- The Rainbow has resurfaced -- again.
Closed for more than a year, one of Pittsfield's iconic restaurants officially reopened for business on Monday night under new management, and for the first time in five years, new ownership.
New owner John Economou, a local businessman who purchased the 123-year-old First Street building in May for $225,000, believes his family's previous experience in the restaurant business will help him succeed where others have failed.
The Rainbow was originally founded by the Sacchetti family of Pittsfield, who operated the eatery for 46 years until 1978. But the restaurant has had four different operators since 2005, and has been sold twice at foreclosure auctions, most recently in 2008. The Rainbow had been closed for two years when the previous operator, who had never run a restaurant before, reopened it in 2010, then went out of business.
Economou and his wife own Pittsfield Precious Metals on the corner of First and Eagle streets, a short distance from the Rainbow. He also runs LuJohn's Auctioneers and a software company, LuJohn's Enterprises.
In addition, Economou also owned the Belden Tavern in Lee for 18 years, and said his family has operated several restaurants in the Worcester-Boston area dating back to the 1920s.
"We saw the opportunity here," said Economou, who is originally from Worcester. "It's a landmark of a restaurant. The recent circumstances that other owners had -- there's a lot of circumstances involved there -- doesn't concern us at all. We've been very successful in the (restaurant) business."
To manage the Rainbow, Economou has brought in Paul Vilord, whose own family's experience in the restaurant business dates back to the 1930s. Vilord ran his own restaurant in suburban New York City for 30 years, then met Economou in 1999 when he moved to the Berkshires and became a restaurant consultant.
When Economou purchased the Rainbow from DFP Nominee Trust of Pittsfield last spring following more than six months of negotiations, Vilord said he asked him to join the business.
"There a lot involved in the restaurant business," Vilord said. "But we both have a lot of confidence, and we've tested a lot of things. So we know a lot about the ins and outs and the mistakes, and so forth."
"There's really no substitute for experience," Economou added.
Economou said he's spent roughly $150,000 on renovations, which include redoing the entire kitchen, and knocking down a wall near the front entrance, where he's placed a small bar.
The new bar faces the old bar, which in the Rainbow's previous incarnation was located in a separate room. Economou said he obtained a parking variance from the city of Pittsfield, and he intends to build a wooden deck in a space that housed two rarely used parking spaces.
He's also brought back the Rainbow's pizza oven, which the previous owner retained, but didn't use.
The changes have lowered the Rainbow's seating capacity from 150 patrons to 132, but Economou has also added some high-tech touches that include a website (dinerainbow.com), and a phone app.
Besides pizza, the menu will also contain pasta dishes, and made-to-order entrees.
"Everything's fresh here," Economou said. "Everything's made to order. No shortcuts taken."
The Rainbow is located across the street from the Pittsfield Common, which is currently undergoing a $4.6 million renovation that is expected to be completed by 2015. Once events begin to take place in the Common, Economou said he plans to set up a food ordering system through which patrons will be able to text their orders to the restaurant from the Common, and have their food delivered to the park.
"I'm really excited about that," he said.
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