City has reputation for being friendly to new businesses
Affordability is among reasons Struthers attracts new business.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
STRUTHERS -- Having a friendly environment for new businesses is starting to pay off here: A handful of new businesses opened here in recent weeks.
Reardon-Midwest Ambulance Service Inc. began operations Aug. 1 at 184 S. Bridge St.
The city's close proximity to Poland Township, Campbell and Lowellville makes it an excellent base for an ambulance service seeking to serve those communities, said Terry Reardon, president.
"We want to be within six minutes of any call we might get."
But making the city even more attractive, he said, "is the very, very positive response we've received from public officials and the citizens. Struthers officials are very cooperative and the community is a very friendly environment, very good to work with."
Reardon-Midwest operates two fully staffed paramedic units and an ambulette for nonemergency transfers, employing about 20 full- and part-time workers.
As a Struthers-based ambulance service, Reardon-Midwest responds to 911 calls in the city every other month, rotating with Clemente Ambulance.
DonaVito's Italian Grille opened Wednesday in the old Blue Wolf Tavern building, 139 S. Bridge St.
"I'm confident we'll do well," said Frank DiVito, who owns the restaurant and banquet center with Alan Donatelli, the chef, and their wives.
DiVito used to own Jolly Joe's, on the Youngstown-Struthers border. Jolly Joe's did a good business, DiVito said, attributing much of its success to repeat customers.
He sold that restaurant-tavern about three years ago, but living only five minutes from downtown Struthers, DiVito said he drove past the Blue Wolf often.
"They had a robust business. That location can do high-volume business. The traffic volume is unbelievable," DiVito said.
So, when the Blue Wolf moved and the space became available, he and Donatelli, who had been the chef at Jolly Joe's, decided to buy the building and open another restaurant.
"It's going to be challenge. I was in the restaurant biz before so I know what we're getting into," DiVito said. "DonaVito's will be a family restaurant with great food at reasonable prices. We're looking for that repeat business."
DonaVito's will also be able to accommodate more diners, having remodeled the restaurant and transformed the adjacent storefront, which once housed a computer store, into a banquet room.
The menu features Italian style foods, salads, sandwiches, fresh fish, pasta, veal, steak.
"Struthers is a really nice town offering support," Donatelli said. "The people have told us they're happy to have us here. We'll do well."
Last month, Timeless Creations, which sells handmade jewelry and offers jewelry-making classes, opened at 583 Fifth St.
Earlier this year, A-Zar Construction, a paving contractor based in Canfield, leased space in Struthers' CASTLO Industrial Park and may move all operations there, said Aaron Zarlingo, who started the company.
At present, A-Zar is leasing yard space and "we're in line to get a building," Zarlingo said.
The Struthers location is ideal, he said, because it is centrally located from employees' homes, "the rent is very reasonable and CASTLO is always taking care of our needs. If we get a building, we'd move our operations from Canfield."
A-Zar needs a storage building for its trucks and trailers but does not want to build or own the facility, Zarlingo said.
G-Force Contracting, a bridge painting contractor, leased space at CASTLO just over a year ago.
The company houses and repairs its equipment in an old steel-mill building there because it shelters equipment from the weather when it's not in use, provides equipment maintenance workers with a good place to work, and prevents an eyesore for neighbors who complained about the company's storing machinery in the open on acreage it owns in Coitsville, said Kelly Gialousis, whose four sons -- Emanuel, Leo, George and Anthony -- own and operate G-Force Contracting.
"This is an ideal location for a company like ours," Gialousis said. "It has easy access from wherever we may be working. Everything can be stored inside. It's a clean, very attractive site that meets our needs and has reasonable rent.
"We just signed a new lease," she added.
What mayor says
Among the reasons Struthers appeals to business, said Mayor Dan Mamula, is its affordability, stable city services, and city leaders' willingness to work with prospective business owners.
Though he is happy with the influx of business this year, Mamula said, "we lost a few businesses last year and the year before. We had four empty downtown buildings overnight. So, we're really just replacing what we lost."
A State Street storefront vacated this summer when a longtime antiques store closed, has already been leased, he added.
Melanie Rauschenbach, owner of Kids Stuff and Teen Stuff, leased the 1,800-square-foot space to expand and combine her businesses.
The empty storefront links her two shops, which specialize in quality used juvenile furniture, clothing and toys, and gently used clothing, shoes, boots and accessories for teenagers.
A lifelong Struthers resident, Rauschenbach said she is committed to helping revitalize the city's downtown retail district and is proud that her business draws regular customers to Struthers from as far as Leetonia and New Castle, Pa.
The next empty building the city hopes will attract a new tenant, the mayor said, is the old Martin's Appliances building at 158 S. Bridge St.
It's a great space and we've had a number of inquiries, Mamula said.
Among the industries ideally suited to the building, he said, are warehouse-distribution, retail, and heating and ventilating contracting.