BluAqua restaurant make waves, sinks

AMHERST – The bluAqua restaurant and bar opened with a big splash three years ago, prompting rave reviews on food websites.

Located at Salzburg Square, it was named Best New Restaurant in the 2014 Best of the Souhegan Region contest, sponsored by The Cabinet and the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce. In May, the Boston CBS’s Phantom Gourmet called the food "truly mesmerizing."

Last week, however, the res­taurant closed abruptly, when chef/owner Chris Noble reported on Facebook that he hopes to re-open nearby soon and indicated that the site didn’t work out.

"As some of you know and many of you have heard, we have been in some rough negotia­tions over the last few months. Unfortunately, bluAqua is no longer viable at this location and we have made the hard deci­sion to close the doors," Noble wrote. "We have accomplish so much and are so grateful to all of you for your love and support through our years here. We hope to remain nearby and promise to let you know as soon as we find our new home."

Mike Spyridakis, Salzburg Square’s owner, however, said Tuesday he had gone to court to have the restaurant evicted for violating the lease with late rent payments and by not opening at lunch time as the lease required.

"It’s too bad," said Spyridakis, who has owned the complex for 11 years. "I’m looking for a good restaurant" that can be open in the middle of the day to benefit the other shops.

Noble could not be reached for comment, and Scott Forrester, the restaurant’s original owner, said he is in New Orleans dealing with family issues.

Forrester, who said he is now a major investor, said they chose to leave Salzburg Square for several reasons, including the fact that Spyridakis "was forcing the chef to open for lunch … It was lunch or you’re out of here.

"We tried that, and we lost a ton of money," he said. "Very few people are coming through here for lunch."

The small Bavarian-style shopping center on Route 101 has about 15 units, depending on how they are configured. Some of them are empty.

It’s been the longtime home of Enchanted Lace and Roxie’s Fashions. More recently, Tucked- In Organics, a mattresses and bedding shop, and Jim Peacock’s karate studio moved in.

During the Phantom Gourmet interview Noble said he left Loui­siana when he was 22.

"I thought everywhere was like New Orleans, where bars didn’t close; where the door hinges were rusted open," he said, and "the focus is on the food … We just don’t have any rules. We do what we want. People seem to love it. We’re very playful with our menu and it’s just a great vibe here."

The bluAqua space was the original home of the The Black Forest restaurant, now located west of Salzburg Square on Route 101.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@nashuatelegraph.com.