By Kathryn M. Miller
The team of Mark Howard and Rocco Menaguale are bringing a new, dynamic collective of businesses to the heart of the Melrose Mile. Partners in life and collaborators in business for many years, the duo aims to open their latest collaboration — an adaptive reuse urban development called The Royale — late this year.
Entrepreneurship is nothing new to either. Howard, a native of Arizona, has been a small-business owner for almost three decades, and created some of the area’s more popular restaurants along the way — Fez Restaurant and Bar, which opened in Midtown in 2005 and later moved downtown to Central and Portland, and Bliss/ReBAR, which closed in May of this year after 12 years in downtown’s Roosevelt Row.
Menaguale, a transplant from New York more than 20 years ago, is the owner of Rocco Designs, a boutique architecture, interior design and contemporary fine art company already located in the Melrose District. He will move over to The Royale along with some half a dozen other small, locally owned businesses that will work “symbiotically” with one another.
Tenants to-date include Cult Hair Studio & Spa, already in Melrose but moving their operations, Stem Swag and Window Coffee Bar. Howard will also head up a yet-to-be-determined restaurant/bar concept. While he doesn’t plan on opening a second Fez location, he says he hasn’t ruled it out either. The development is currently in talks with other prospective tenants.
Open space in the center of the development will offer outdoor dining opportunities, community event space (think movie nights and more), and once the restaurant concept is determined, the plan is to offer private event space as well — with all of the services needed already right on site.
While the project has been actively in the works for a year, the duo says that they have been kicking around the idea of a development like this for many years, and the timing was finally right, as was the location. In fact, both have a deep love for the area.
“For us, that neighborhood is just a very special neighborhood,” Howard said. “We’ve lived and worked in that neighborhood, around that neighborhood for decades, and we are there a lot supporting businesses that are in those neighborhoods. And so, we’re just excited to be a part of that.”
It was important that they got it right, and they have been working with neighbors and the area neighborhood associations.
It seems that hard work has paid off, with residents and associations expressing their enthusiasm for the project.
“Mark and Rocco are from our community and have a deep connection with our neighborhood and with just the Melrose area generally,” said Ed Hermes, vice president of the Carnation Neighborhood Association.
“We’ve looked at this corner, 6th Avenue and Glenrosa… it’s got a lot of promise and opportunity, but it also is a bit problematic from a traffic perspective. These guys are the perfect local developers to come in here and really, I think, transform that corner in something that’s going to be a wonderful community asset.”
Menaguale added, “I always say you can almost live your entire life on that one Melrose Mile.” Come this winter, The Royale will bring that sentiment one step closer to reality.
The Royale is located at 635 W. Glenrosa Ave. Follow the project’s progress on social media, @royalephx, or sign up for email updates at www.royalephx.com.