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New building owner plans to shutter Cedar's

Published: Sat, December 8, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

Burger eatery, offices, apartments to replace legendary downtown rock club

By GUY D’ASTOLFO and Jamison Cocklin

The Vindicator


Cedar’s Lounge, the legendary rock’n’roll bar with a reputation that extends beyond the region, is being forced out of the location where it’s been for 37 years.

The new owner of the Gallagher Building, which houses Cedar’s, said Friday that the bar will not be permitted to stay.

“Cedar’s will not stay there,” said Dominic Gatta III. “With all the upgrades [it needs], including a new stairwell, new sanitary, bringing the building up to code and everything else, it does not fit my vision for the building.”

Gatta, who bought the Gallagher building for $192,500 in September, has plans to gut the entire first floor of the building.

The first floor is slated to become a high-end burger restaurant and a separate wine/coffee bar. The second floor will house commercial offices, while the third and fourth will be transformed into apartments.

Gatta could not say exactly when Cedar’s will have to leave.

“We haven’t put a date on that yet,” Gatta said when asked when Cedar’s might be forced to close its doors for the planned renovations. “As of right now, they’re open and operating. We’ve been in discussions about time frame, but Cedar’s will not stay.”

Gatta added that he plans to open the restaurants sometime next spring. He also has tentative plans to open the apartments on the third and fourth floors sometime during the summer of 2013.

Mara Simon, owner of Cedar’s, who operates the bar with Billy Danielson, vowed to find another location and reopen. “This bar belongs to Youngstown,” she said, referring to its long history in the city’s arts scene and the many regulars who patronize it.

Cedar’s long has been a regular stop for touring bands passing through Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as rising local acts. Known for its Bohemian spirit, it also hosts art shows and fundraisers.

The bar was started by Simon’s father, Tom, in 1975, who ran it until his health began to fail. Mara took over the bar in 2008.

The Simon family owned the building until it was sold three months ago. At the time, Mara Simon said the sale would not affect the future operation of Cedar’s.

The Gatta Co. of Niles — which is owned by Dominic Gatta Jr. and his son, Gatta III — purchased the Federal Building, which is on the same block as Cedar’s, in 2009. It made extensive renovations to the structure, adding apartments on the upper three floors and street level space for V2 Wine Bar Trattoria restaurant and other commercial outlets.

The building that houses Cedar’s was built in 1904 and is unused except for Cedar’s Lounge.

Gatta said Friday that it needs a lot of work. “It’s a shame the [condition of the] building has gotten that bad,” he said. “The roof probably only has about a year or two left on it, and it’s just a good thing that I was able to buy it at the time I did.”


1ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Why blame the new owner for developing his own private property as he sees fit? If Mara Simon wanted Cedar's to stay in its current location then WHY DID SHE SELL THE BUILDING???

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

The Simons have already purchased the old Coconut Grove and will be re-opening 'Cedars at the Grove' in the spring of 2013.

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3islandgrump(59 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Good Lord, the Coconut Grove?? Will they be giving complimentary pistols as you leave? So that one may readily shoot his/her way to their auto. Beautiful part of Youngstown, just beautiful.
Good luck though, we admire your courage.

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4cedars(1 comment)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

whoa whoa- the simons did not buy the coconut grove, nor would we ever. and mara simon did not sell the building, saada simon did. the building and the business are two different things. mara never received one dollar from this sell, it happened behind her and cedars back.

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5esteethomas(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

i have no doubt that mara will find a suitable location to move into she is a fighter & has loved that place her whole life

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6author50(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Anthony's on the River can be had for a few million with plenty of help from the taxpayers.

Whats wrong with the old Coconut Grove as a venue for Cedars?

Call it 'Cedar's on the South Side' and the city will pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Simons to repair the image of the south side.

The new place could be the foundation to revitlize and change the south side.

And for those of you who are worried about the south side... if you listen to Foley, Sweirz, Gerscon, Sammarone and Ferris now that the old Coconut Grove is closed all crime in the city has gone and the city will be downsizing its police force.

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7valleyred(1103 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Glad to see new development going downtown. Instead of ripping on the new owner of this building, he should be commended for the great work he is doing for our community.

Downtown will be just fine with or without Cedars.

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8Vetchking(1 comment)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Cedars was an important music venu. Truly unique. It smelled bad, But once in a while you hear a hard working group trying to make it. ( Driving from South Carolina to Y-town.) Very Cool.
I am a record producer I would often drive 45 miles looking for talent.

All in all it is still a needed club. The new owner is cool. He is trying to bring back economy to Y-town. Most people would put there money any place else. I do not know him, But, He's a cool guy.

George Grexa 724-589-5440

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