People excited to eat at Cooper’s Restaurant and Wine Room – which has been under renovations since last fall in the former location of the Steele Pig in downtown Sanford – won’t have to wait much longer.

Owner Brandon Atkins told the Rant on Friday that the new restaurant will open its doors to diners on Tuesday, March 19. We reported in January that Atkins and his staff hoped to be open by Valentine’s Day, but with all of the necessary permits Now in place, they’re set for business and will soon begin taking reservations on their website. From our January coverage:

“When we closed in September, we didn’t expect the renovations to take this long,” Watson said. “But we found so much stuff we needed to do, and so we just decided to do it perfect.”

Those things included completely renovating the building’s inside – gone are the carpet and the dropped ceiling. There’s an entirely new seating configuration, a new bar, and new light fixtures, as well as a nook for a prominently-displayed wine rack – and, most importantly, deciding to move forward with a new concept.

“We realized it had to be its own thing,” Atkins said of the move. “It was time to start fresh.”

And so sometime in the next couple of weeks, the Steele Pig will be no more, and Cooper’s Restaurant and Wine Room will take its place. Watson and Atkins, who hope to be open by Valentine’s Day, describe the fare as “elevated southern” – it’ll include things like an aged filet mignon, a bone in ribeye, chicken carbonara, pan seared scallops, blistered tuna, and much more (including the lone holdover from the Pig – its locally-famous shrimp and grits). Watson says they group plans to use the best quality ingredients they can find, to include the wine that is so prominently featured in the restaurant’s name. Vintages from far-flung locales like Oregon, Argentina, California, and Spain will all be available, and with an emphasis on high-quality, tablecloth service, the group expects to make a splash.

We wish Atkins and his staff the best of luck as they get Sanford’s newest restaurant off the ground.

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