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Saint Leo opens new lounge on Square

Saint Leo is expanding its footprint on the Oxford Square. The restaurant debuted its sister location, Saint Leo Lounge, on Thursday. The new lounge and event space is less than .2 miles from the restaurant and is the culmination of a near two-year project that Saint Leo owner Emily Blount undertook.

Blount initially took over the area when she needed more storage space for her restaurant. The 922 Jackson Avenue East location also provided a place within walking distance.  After renting the first space, the second location next to it became available.

“So, I took (the second space), too and I sort of had the idea of, ‘OK, I should turn this into potentially an event space,” Blount said. “The cocktail lounge-side of it sort of evolved over time, but low and behold here we are.”

The lounge features a round bar in the center with 360-degree seating and access to the bartenders. There is also seating long the walls where cocktail waitresses will take customers’ orders.

With several event spaces already on the Square, including the Lyric Theater that caters to a certain size party, Blount saw an opportunity to provide a place for those who do not need as large a space to hold their events.

“Everyone in Oxford has a large party,” Blount said. “There is not a place on the Square that accommodates medium-sized parties in the sense that you can go to The Lyric and have a huge, huge venue where the other places are small and can’t accommodate this type of size.”

The space covers 4,000 square feet, including the kitchen. The lounge is also part of another goal Blount had, which was to help grow her original business. Saint Leo does not have near the same footprint the lounge does, and Blount wants to take advantage of having both spaces.

“My larger goal is that Saint Leo can become better,” Blount said. “We have a really large kitchen (at the lounge location). So, all of our dough, all of our cheese, all of our bread, all of pastries, all of our ice cream, all of that we do out of a 400 square foot kitchen. We can actually move that to here now and that product can get better.”

Along with hosting private events, the lounge will be open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday and available for brunch.