The rain took a break on Wednesday afternoon, allowing wineries and breweries from around Lodi to set up tables underneath tents on the corner of North School and West Lockeford streets to celebrate as a new restaurant broke ground in town: the Stockton-based Papapavlo’s.

“It’s an incredible feeling, from the almost-four-year challenge of getting this project from conception to completion,” said owner Andy Pappas.

Pappas expects the restaurant to open early next year, offering a menu of American and Mediterranean cuisine along with a cafe and bakery on the outdoor patio terrace — “Everything that appeals to everybody,” he said.

The terrace will feature park benches, trees and an outdoor fire pit, Pappas said. In the coming years he hopes to expand the restaurant to include banquet rooms.

“We’re going to try to do something pretty exclusive with our own private parking lot,” Pappas said.

The property — known as Papa’s Plaza — will also be home to a few other businesses

As guests mingled and talked over appetizers and beverages, Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, called for everyone’s attention to begin the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Let me be the first — and I feel honored to do this — to welcome you to Papa’s Plaza,” he said.

Beaming with pride, Patrick spoke about how the restaurant will bring new jobs to the city and revitalize Downtown Lodi.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ for coming to Lodi,” he said.

After thanking everyone for attending, Pappas and his family took shovels — spray-painted gold — and officially broke ground on their new restaurant.

“We hope to make everybody proud,” Pappas said.

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