A "Sold" sign rests on the front window of the former J.P.  O’Hanlon’s pub at 9 Main St.  in Ayer. SUN / Heidi Creighton CiampaSun
A "Sold" sign rests on the front window of the former J.P. O'Hanlon's pub at 9 Main St. in Ayer. SUN / Heidi Creighton Ciampa

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AYER -- A new "real-food" restaurant is planned this fall for the space that housed the former J.P. O'Hanlon's at 9 Main St.

And it will be run by some familiar downtown Ayer faces.

Anne and Mark diCicco, owners of Lucia's Tavola (31 Main St.) and Markoh's on Main (43 Main St.), are teaming with local businessman Keith Leighton to open New England Flatbread & Ale Co. later this year.

Anne diCicco said the working concept is New England local, sustainable and organic food, along with a pub focusing on local microbrews.

"It's a real-food revolution," she said. "We want restaurants to move back to taking real ingredients to make real food. At Lucia's, we make bread every day, plus all the mozzarella, sauces, pastas, desserts and even salad dressings in-house."

DiCicco said the couple decided to purchase the former J.P. O'Hanlon's spot after measuring the potential of Ayer's downtown district, which they believe is currently undergoing a revitalization. She said they hope to be able to make it the local watering hole and still be family-friendly.

"What's happening in Devens is flowing over into Ayer," she said. "Devens is growing and working to increase industry, with two lovely hotels and New England Studios. There is definitely room for growth in Ayer."

New England Flatbread will make to order organic flatbread pizza baked in a wood-fired oven. Organic salads will be served and the flatbread pizzas will have a wide variety of organic toppings to choose from.

In addition to several local microbrews, the restaurant will feature locally roasted organic coffee by Rock'n Roll Hall of Famer Joey Kramer, drummer for Aerosmith.

"This is absolutely a great location and the town is absolutely more than waiting for it," said Leighton, who owns the Spaulding Building at 25 Main St. "I think it will really take off."

Construction at the new site could begin in two weeks, he said. Plans call for the installation of a new HVAC system and a conversion to gas heat, as well as a new kitchen, bathrooms and bar.

Leighton said early fall is the target opening time.

Mark diCicco is from a large Italian family and has been in the restaurant business for several decades. After dabbling in the business in the South, he and Anne moved north where he served several culinary stints before purchasing Lucia's in Brookline, N.H., in 2009.

Mark's great-grandmother's name was Lucia, so they never dared change the name, and continued with that name for Lucia's Tavola in Ayer, where her portrait hangs.

For 14 months they ran both the Lucia's restaurants and then closed the New Hampshire restaurant and brought all staff members to Ayer. Lucia's in Ayer opened in April 2012 and by February 2013, the diCiccos opened Markoh's on Main to accommodate functions.