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New sports grill opens on Bell Boulevard

Belleville’s newest sports grill hopes to bring a taste of the big city, says restaurant co-owner Ayhan Ercenik. Photo by Makala Chapman, QNet News

By Makala Chapman [1]

BELLEVILLE – The doors of Belleville’s newest restaurant are now officially open.

Over the weekend, hundreds came out to 13 Bell Boulevard to celebrate the grand opening of Shoeless Joe’s [2] sports grill.

Local dignitaries, restaurant representatives and a few customers got a first-hand taste of the new restaurant franchise on Friday night before its Monday launch.

The new eatery, located in the building that formerly housed the Dem Bones restaurant, boasts a newly renovated $2 million interior complete with 47 large-screen televisions on most of its walls so that customers can easily watch sporting events.

Shoeless Joe’s co-owners – (from left) Nigel Menezes, Gokan Karakus, Alex Anthony and Ayhan Ercenik – say they have felt nothing but welcomed in Belleville. Photo by Makala Chapman, QNet News

Restaurant co-owner Ayhan Ercenik says that the normal budget for launching a Shoeless Joe’s location is between $1.2 and $1.3 million.

“This is more than just an average Shoeless Joe’s,” he said. “This is a unique project. We wanted to do something challenging and different.”

He wanted people entering the close to 5,000-square-foot restaurant to feel like they were getting a taste of the big city but with a small-town feel, he said.

“The people just deserve everything better than what they had,” he added.

Ercenik and his co-owners – Nigel Menezes, Gokan Karakus, and Alex Anthony – previously worked in the Toronto food industry before making their move to the Quinte region.

Shoeless Joe’s prides itself on getting involved in the community, says the restaurant’s marketing manager, April Meeks.

Shoeless Joe’s marketing manager April Meeks says the restaurant hopes to be people’s go-to place to watch sports in the Quinte region. Photo by Makala Chapman, QNet News

“We’re very excited about being a part of this community,” she said.

The Home Team Advantage [3] is a Shoeless Joe’s program aimed at supporting sports teams, not-for-profits and other community organizations, she said, adding: “We can’t wait to connect with the community and be able to provide those programs.”

Shoeless Joe’s “is just going to be something that Belleville has never seen and we’re super, super excited about it,” Meeks said. “We want this to be the place that everyone goes to watch their sports, but again, it’s a family-friendly environment.”

Ercenik said he and his partners have felt nothing but welcomed here.

“Very lovely people. Very friendly people. We are happy to be in Belleville.”