Downtown Youngstown craft beer and high-end whiskey bar plans to open next month

By David Skolnick


The city’s design review committee approved the “general concept” of exterior work to be done in time for the opening of a downtown craft beer and high-end whiskey bar.

Additional information about the location of front signs of Ryes the Bar at 124 W. Federal St. as well as a covering of an exterior fire escape/steps to the business’ second-floor location, above the Imbibe martini bar, are needed, said Bill D’Avignon, DRC chairman and the city’s Community Development Agency director.

“We approved a general concept, but they need to submit detailed drawings,” D’Avignon said.

That information will be provided in about a week, said Jeff Kurz, who co-owned Ryes and the Imbibe.

The committee met Tuesday to review the exterior plans for the new bar that Kurz said is expected to open next month.

The Imbibe opened in 2005, and the preliminary idea for the craft beer and whiskey bar was made about three years later, Kurz said.

Plans for Ryes kicked into high gear about a year ago, but various delays — including issues with the liquor license, the original architect and contractors — slowed down the project, Kurz said.

“It’s been a real challenging process,” he said. “It’s been very difficult. We’re very serious to our commitment to downtown Youngstown and will finish this project.” The project will cost around $300,000, he said.

Kurz sought committee approval for new signs, renovations to the entrance and exit, the installation of a rear balcony and fire escape, and repair work to the front canopy.

The committee asked for more specifics about the location of the signs and questioned if the fire escape, which would be a rear entrance to Ryes, was in compliance with state building code as it wouldn’t have a covering or lighting.

The fire escape also would be connected to O’Donald’s Irish Pub & Grill Downtown at 122 W. Federal St. Kurz’s company owns that building, but not the restaurant.

“Ohio Building Code will require you to put a cover and lighting over the rear fire escape,” said John DeFrance, a DRC member. “I don’t think you’ll escape needing an awning over the stairs.”

“I don’t think an exposed fire escape is permitted” under state code, D’Avignon added.

Kurz said later, “I’m making some calls on awnings” over the stairs. “I have to see if it’s necessary. But if it pleases design review then we’ll do it.”

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