The former owner of Enoteca Marcello’s Wine Bar & Café has signed a lease for the restaurant’s old space in the Southdowns Village Shopping center and plans to open a “wine-centric” casual eatery there.

Gene Todaro said the restaurant at 4205 Perkins will “more than likely” be called Marcello’s and is expected to open by March.

“It will be more casual than what we did before there,” he said. “But we’ll have some of our classic dishes and new dishes on the menu. It will be less pigeonholed than just Italian. We’ll have more flexibility to do different things.”

Todaro ran Marcello’s in the old Southdowns Lounge spot for several years before he sold the building to Romacelli in 2012. Since then, he opened a Marcello’s in New Orleans’ Central Business District and in Metaire, to go along with Marcello’s locations that existed in Lafayette.

“We still have New Orleans and Lafayette locations and I live in the middle,” he said. “I love living in Baton Rouge.” Todaro said he started looking for a restaurant site in Baton Rouge and his former location kept popping up.

Plans are for the new restaurant to be open for lunch and dinner, but it hasn’t been determined how many days a week. About 30 full- and part-time employees will work at the property.

The restaurant space has been vacant since February when Table closed. 

For years, the space had been the home of the Southdowns Lounge, a neighborhood bar known for its frozen Purple Haze cocktails and its annual Halloween party. Since the lounge closed in 2008, four different restaurants have cycled through the building: Table, Portico, Romacelli Bistro and Marcello's.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.