A Sicilian restaurant on Veterans Boulevard is making way for steaks. Marcello’s of Metairie has closed and will soon become a location of Saltgrass Steak House, a Houston-based chain that has been expanding in the region lately.

Gene Todaro, co-owner of Marcello’s, confirmed that a deal to sell the location at 4860 Veterans Blvd. was completed over the weekend. Renovations are slated to begin soon.

"We are looking to open Saltgrass Steak House in New Orleans in the first quarter of 2018," said Jeff Cantwell, executive vice president of development for the restaurant's parent company.  

The original Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar in downtown New Orleans remains open as usual, and Todaro said reservations and functions booked for the Metairie location are being transferred there.

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Marcello’s of Metairie was a recent addition to a stretch of Veterans Boulevard near Clearview Parkway that has seen much new development, including a profusion of national restaurant brands.

Saltgrass is the second steakhouse chain to announce expansion plans in Metairie this year. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is now building a location nearby at Lakeside Shopping Center.

The Veteran Boulevard version of Marcello's opened early in 2016 and was modeled closely on the New Orleans restaurant, with a menu of upscale Sicilian cuisine and a semi-self-serve approach to wine. Bottles are displayed on racks, customers make their own selections during the meal and the staff handles the wine from there.

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Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - Grilled, long-stem artichokes are part of the menu of Italian cuisine at Marcello's Restaurant & Wine Bar in downtown New Orleans. 

The Saltgrass acquisition happened fast but also has some precedent. The Veterans Boulevard location had previously been the Tex-Mex restaurant Coyote Blues. Todaro’s partner in developing Marcello’s here was Kevin Moody, a member of the family that runs the Lafayette-based Coyote Blues brand. Earlier this year, Saltgrass Steak House took over the former Baton Rouge location of Coyote Blues as part of its Louisiana expansion. Saltgrass has more than 50 locations around the region, including restaurants in Lafayette, Lake Charles and Bossier City.

Saltgrass Steak House is a southwestern-style restaurant that puts its Texas roots on prominent display in the décor and menu. In addition to steaks, it serves an extensive mid-range menu running through ribs and seafood, burgers and tacos.

The concept is part of Landry’s Inc., a hospitality company that has many different brands, including Landry’s Seafood, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Morton’s The Steakhouse and the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.

The first Marcello’s opened in 2014 in the former home of Le Chat Noir theater on St. Charles Avenue. It serves dinner daily and lunch Monday through Friday.

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Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.