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New owners hope to rehabilitate Farmington restaurant's reputation

Phil Marvets will handle day-to-day operations at Carbone's in Farmington. He bought the restaurant last month with his brother Tony.

The second night Phil and Tony Marvets owned their new Farmington restaurant there was a fight at the bar. It was a big enough disturbance that Phil had to sit down with police and review security video of the incident. And it was exactly the kind of thing the brothers hope to discourage as they try to transform the business, a former American Legion and, briefly, a sports bar called Tailgaters.

They want their business, which last week transitioned officially into a Carbone's, to be a place families can come and have a good time.

"I just got a little bit of bad taste after that fight," said Phil Marvets, who will handle the day-to-day operations at the restaurant. "Day two after purchasing it I have to sit down with Farmington detectives and go over what I saw because I was here. Then we looked over the video tapes. It just was not where we want to be. It was kind of an eye-opening, OK, this place really does need to change."

Those changes have come steadily in the weeks since. There are new booths and tables in part of the restaurant. There are video games back in a corner, and a wall that formerly divided the space is gone.

"We tried to brighten the place, liven it up," Marvets said.

More changes are coming. The brothers would like to add a patio in front of the building to go along with an existing deck. Once they get approval for their plan they will remove an island bar that currently dominates half of the building. They'll push the bar into a corner and replace it with tables.

Marvets hopes to get approval for that plan this week and have renovation work done by mid-July.

Other changes are less visible. Marvets said he has "reinspired" staff to cut customers off when they have had too much to drink, and to ask them to leave if they are causing trouble. The bar will no longer be open until 1 or 2 in the morning. The focus will be on families out for a quiet meal, not partiers out for a night on the town.

The brothers know a thing or two about running a restaurant. They own Carbone's and Bumpers in Burnsville and are partners in another Carbone's in Northfield. Phil owned Burnsville music venu McCracken's, but sold it because he was tired of the late nights that business demanded.

The changes might have driven away some of the heavy-drinking crowd, but Marvets is OK with that. That's not wants the business to be.

The challenge now will be to make sure the rest of the community knows things are different.

"It's probably going to be overcoming obstacles for the first six, eight months," Marvets said. "Hopefully we'll do a lot of the right things in the community."

Carbone's already has a fully booked Tuesday night volleyball league for the summer. Marvets said they're looking to add other nights and possibly bring beanbag-toss competition to the restaurant's large backyard. He's also talked about adding regular car shows and other events.

He knows he's made at least a little progress already, though. One customer asked recently if he would add baby-changing stations in the bathrooms.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606