Bronx Grill heats up former Sizzler spot

New name, new look, but same sizzling steaks and renowned salad bar.

The former Sizzler at 2375 East Tremont is now the Bronx Grill, after the national franchise shut down operations in all but two New York City locations.

The new restaurant is still under the ownership of Chandradutt “Ron” Harpaul, who opened the location as a Sizzler about 40 years ago. However, the building has had a complete makeover and the menu has grown.

“We stuck with what we know: steaks, seafood and salad bar,” said Niroopa Harpaul, the owner’s daughter and manager. “We call it a grill because that’s mostly what we do, and we’re a neighborhood restaurant, so we’re now the Bronx Grill.”

The family-owned business was notified about a year ago that the franchise would be pulling out of the New York City market due to branding issues.

While the restaurant officially became the Bronx Grill on September 1, the company held a ribbon cutting ceremony with elected officials and restaurant regulars — of which there are many — on Wednesday, September 29.

The new facility has shed the stuffy diner style of the Sizzler brand and embraced a more Carribbean atmosphere, with an expanded seafood menu and steel drums welcoming guests.

As part of a franchise, the restaurant was limited in what it could offer, Harpaul said.

“There’s a larger variety now. We’re not told to stay with the strict menu,” she said. “We don’t need to worry about Sizzler any more. We can offer so much more.”

According to Harpaul, the company made the decor changes as fast as possible to help protect both the customers and employees.

“We wanted to keep it going. We have about 30 employees and for anybody to be out of work in this market, even for a month, would be tough for them,” she said. “We’re loyal to our employees. We have some that have been with us for 25 years.”

In 2008 the restaurant’s salad bar was voted the best of the nationwide chain. According to Harpaul, its success based on obtaining the freshest produce from the Hunts Point Green market.

Because of the franchise’s regulations they had to purchase seafood and meat from designated retailers.

No longer bound by such stipulations, the grill is looking to start offering only fresh seafood from the Hunts Point Market on their menu.

While September is a typically slow month, business has been picking up and Harpaul expects a busy future for the Bronx Grill.

“There’s a lot of interest,” she said.