By GUY D’ASTOLFO and Jamison Cocklin
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.”