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Macon restaurateur Cesare Mammarella is shaking up his business portfolio downtown.

He closed Kashmir lounge at 496 Second St. in April and is planning to open Yabu Sushi on Aug. 12 in the same location. He's hired two sushi chefs, one from Atlanta and another from Savannah.

While they will offer traditional fare, Mammarella said, "we're going to do some edgy stuff with our Asian salads and sushi."

He said he doesn't want people to think of the new business as a sushi restaurant, but as a sushi lounge.

"Hopefully it will fill another niche," Mammarella said.

Also in April, Mammarella closed Asylum nightclub at 543 Plum St.

In its place, he's opening Emerson Ballroom for weddings and other special events. "We already have three events booked in October," he said.

Workers were busy in the former club Thursday making renovations. They even turned the former parking lot into a courtyard with grass, stone pavers, trees and shrubs. "It will be 90 percent done in August," Mammarella said.

He said he's been wanting to get out of the club business for a while.

"The club business has changed," he said. "The demographics have changed. It was too many headaches. It wasn't even worth opening the doors."

Mammarella's HotPlates Restaurant Group also owns Tic Toc Room, 408 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; Bearfoot Tavern, 401 Cherry St.; Ginger Stir-Fry & Grill, 496 Second St.; and Brasserie Circa, 4420 Forsyth Road.

He said his other businesses are doing well. Things are going so well at Ginger, Mammarella is planning to open three more - one on Zebulon Road, one in the Bass Road area and another in Athens. He said he's hoping to have at least one of those locations open in the fall.

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