PORTSMOUTH — Joe Faro has the original newspaper article announcing the closure of Cafe Brioche in 2004, which at the time was thought to be the heart and soul of Market Square.

"There was an uproar," Faro said. The owners simply posted a 34-word farewell message on the door.

A few months later, Breaking New Grounds coffee shop moved into the space from its nearby Market Street location. Quickly, it became a staple destination for a hot chocolate during the downtown Christmas tree lighting, a decadent slice of cake after dinner, or an outdoor coffee with friends on a heat-soaked summer afternoon. Many had first dates there, and then returned to get engaged. Uncountable books were completed within the cafe's walls, and study sessions were often paired with a heavenly delight-flavored iced coffee, or double shot of espresso.

Fifteen years later, history repeated itself when Breaking New Grounds owner Matt Govoni announced in December he was ready to hang up his hat, and the building had been sold to Faro, founder of Tuscan Brands. Word spread like wildfire that Tuscan Market would be moving to the space, and social media imploded with many comments blaming Faro for the departure of the longtime beloved coffee shop.

But on a recent Friday afternoon in his new cafe spot, surrounded by its cherished rough wood timbers and antique brick, Faro has turned the page and is looking to the future. There's no animosity toward those who were upset Breaking New Grounds closed. He gets it. Instead, he invites them to join the historic space's next chapter, which he calls an "open air vibrant Italian market and cafe." Faro hopes it will become the next revered space in the trio of businesses over the last 15 years.

"I saw the ‘corporate takeover of Portsmouth’ comments online," Faro said. "You know, I’m a short Italian kid from Lawrence, Massachusetts. I went to UNH, and a professor at the (business school) took an interest in me to start my pasta business, and now here I am."

Years after his education at UNH, Faro, who grew up in a low-income immigrant family, was providing fresh pasta to all the major restaurant chains across the globe with revenues of $75 million. Tuscan Brands grew from there, and the flagship location is now in Salem.

Faro, who lives in Hampton, has a special affection for the Seacoast and the historic significance of his new 78-seat cafe. He's spent the last few months across the street at the Portsmouth Athenaeum, finding out as much as he can about the building, known as the Pearse Building, originally built in 1802. It's his goal to restore the antique storefront, with a bronze finish, to that of the 1905 Henry E. Gerrish Grocery Store that once occupied the building, and also served as a community market.

Appraised in 2018 at $1.8 million, Faro purchased the building from Breaking New Grounds for $4.25 million, according to city assessing records.

"The building is spectacular," Faro said. "A very, very special place in downtown Portsmouth. This is one of the most charming seaside towns in America, and it is because they go to great lengths to preserve the historical significance."

In the new venture, there will be salami hanging from the ceiling, fresh bread everywhere, pastries, plates of prosciutto and cheese, and of course, coffee, he said. Faro is actually working with BNG's Govoni to brew coffee, and Govoni gave him some of his contacts in Brazil and Colombia.

"Espresso, paninis, tiramisu, a glass of wine, cannolis, jazz playing in the background," Faro said. "A very artisan, vintage, rustic environment where you can have a cappuccino with a friend of yours, have a meeting over lunch, or after dinner come have some gelato, some dessert. It’s a melting pot where people can stay all day or come and go."

Faro said Tuscan Brands makes everything from scratch, and he emphasized the Tuscan Market is not to be confused with Tuscan Kitchen; they are two different businesses with varying price points. Tuscan Kitchen will stay at its current location on Lafayette Road in Portsmouth and the market there currently will be converted into a banquet space.

"It’s designed for everybody and not expensive," he said of Tuscan Market. "We want everybody to enjoy, that’s our vision. Everybody from toddlers to seniors and everybody in between. A loud and vibrant space."

The market will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and late into the evenings just like Breaking New Grounds was. The famous outdoor seating, around 42 seats, will return, along with life and ebullience to that area of the square.

Giving samples from the dinner menu, Faro named ricotta gnocchi with mushrooms and pancetta, and pizza with prosciutto and fig. But Tuscan Market is not a restaurant, he said, rather he was adamant it's an Italian cafe and marketplace.

He's installed window seats with pillows in the four iconic bay windows of the space; "my favorite part of this whole thing," he said. Two impressionistic Italian murals are slated to be painted on the Daniel Street side of the building. And from the windows on Daniel Street, passersby will be able to see the pizza oven from Italy and watch the gelato-making.

"I can talk, but I would rather show you our warm hospitality," Faro said. "I think people will really enjoy the ambience we’re going to create. It’s evolving what was here into the next level. Give us a chance to prove who we are and what we do."

Faro is aiming for an opening date around Memorial Day. Construction in the space is moving quickly, and the business will be hiring approximately 40 people. Tuscan Brands employs around 600 people company-wide.

Faro also mentioned he's a businessman who likes to get involved in the community. Tuscan Brands has supported Cross Roads House homeless shelter, done cooking demonstrations at Portsmouth High School, and provided meals for the Chase Home for Children and Seacoast Baptist Church.

"I know that some people have looked at this (transition) in a negative light," Faro said. "I hope they will come to see it in a very positive light. We’re not a corporate takeover. I just enjoy creating. I enjoy following my passion."