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Entrepreneur to start new chain here

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POSTED: February 23, 2007 5:06 a.m.
Richmond Hill resident and artist Victor Pisano is on the verge of starting up what he envisions being a potent restaurant chain, with the first one to open in October right here in Richmond Hill.
Pisano, who is co-creator of the huge House of Blues conglomerate, is banking on his own brand of “low country Italian cuisine” and live music to hit a chord with restaurant goers.
Two restaurants, both entitled BluCarat, are coming to Richmond Hill within a year’s time. The first of which will be at the Station Xchange on Ford Avenue in October with a second, larger restaurant slated to go up near Sterling Creek around this time next year.
“The House of Blues and BluCarat, even though they’re different, started out the same way - with a great idea,” said Pisano. Everyone knows what low country food is, everyone knows what Italian food is, but no one has ever fused the two.”
Pisano, a culinary aficionado and cookbook author, spoke with excitement as he described some of the potential menu items that will be featured with the theme in mind – like crayfish ravioli, Italian grits and wild boar sausage pizza. Like the House of Blues, music will also be a focus as Pisano plans to spotlight local acoustic traditional music at BluCarat.
“Going out to eat is entertainment to me,” Pisano said. “I don’t believe in filling stations. If you want that, go to Domino’s or McDonald’s. If you go out for a dining experience with your friends or family at the Carat, expect more. It will be celebrity-driven. I have many friends in the entertainment industry that will be stopping by. I won’t drop any names, but you never know who you’ll see at the BluCarat.”
Pisano laid out that the first restaurant, at Station Xchange, will be a combination of five things: brick-oven pizzeria, Italian bakery, old English tavern on the pond, outdoor terrace wine bar, and early morning coffee café.
The Sterling Creek locale will be a much larger 6,000 square-foot full-scale restaurant which he is teaming with local developer Johnny Murphy to build. It will overlook Sterling Creek and contain “the world’s largest dining porch”.
Future BluCarat projects are currently under development in Ohio, Virgin Islands and Hilton Head.
Victor’s wife, Judy Pisano-Belushi, is the widow of the late actor John Belushi. He met Judy in Martha’s Vineyard while they were both writing books and residing in that area. The meeting of the two was a key factor in the creation of the world famous House of Blues conglomerate.
“The concept for the House of Blues started in my backyard in 1990 with me, my soon-to-be wife Judy Belushi (widow of John Belushi) and a guy named Isaac Tigrett,” Pisano explained.
“Judy and Danny (Aykroyd) have been partners since Belushi died,” he continued. “They owned the rights to the Blues Brothers characters, so they could market the name. When Judy and I got married, she asked me to help her revive and market the Blues Brothers club that Danny and Belushi used to privately run. When we brought in Isaac, who had previously founded the Hard Rock Cafe, and we were off and running.”
The very first Blues Brothers-themed club opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1992, and the chain has expanded through the years to include 10 clubs throughout the country and become the second largest music venue in the country. The House of Blues boasts an annual revenue of half a billion dollars, Pisano said.
The franchise was recently sold to Live Nation, a subsidiary of Clear Channel, for $350 million. The Belushi estate, which is Pisano’s family, and Dan Aykroyd still retain their royalties through the sale as they own the rights to the Blues Brothers characters.
The clubs have a Mississippi delta blues look to the outer structure and have an African-American folk art design inside. They are a very popular string of music venues as well as a restaurant. The company’s logo is graced by the copyrighted characters of Elwood and Jake Blues, aka Ackroyd and Belushi.
Pisano has taken the concept of Belushi’s estate and Aykroyd cashing in on the copyrighted Blues Brothers characters to the next level by trying to relay this technique to others. He lectures at UGA as an adjunct professor on “intellectual property” or “how to create something as an artist and have it pay for the rest of your life.”
“My mission with this is to increase the ranks of the inspired,” he continued. “I teach that talent is an equal combination of passion, dexterity and instinct. Anyone that is talented has to have those three things in place to be successful.”
In addition, Pisano is an accomplished writer, director and producer in both television and film. He was a contracted screen writer for 20th Century Fox, head writer for a daytime soap opera, worked on Irish television and Italian motion pictures, wrote 2 books and directed musicals including his current project, “The Blues Brothers Revival”, which he also wrote and produced and which is about to embark on a world tour.
One of his most successful productions was a mini-series he wrote and produced for PBS entitled “Three Sovereigns For Sarah”, which starred Vanessa Redgrave and was a smashing success. “It’s in every high school and college in America right now as a teaching tool, and it was the highest rated series in American Playhouse history when it originally aired.”
He is currently writing two movies and a book from his lake house at Ford Plantation. The Pisanos were the first ones to buy a home at the Ford Plantation.
“I came down here for a couple of reasons – to write and also to seek refuge - just like Jake and Elwood (Blues Brothers) did. Although they were hiding from the cops, and I’m not hiding from anybody…yet.”

 

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