A downtown Youngstown nightspot is rebuilding its identity by emphasizing its food — and the things that made it click in the first place.
The Knox Building, 110 W. Federal St., will be rechristened as Martini Bros. this weekend.
The establishment has undergone a series of changes this year, none of which lasted. Originally the Lemon Grove, it was rebranded as Guy’s at the Grove and then The Knox Building, as different management teams took a shot at it.
When it first opened, the Lemon Grove was a scene unto itself with an artsy vibe, eclectic entertainment, an activist persona and funky decor. Then it moved two doors down West Federal Street. It was a much bigger room, but the formula just didn’t translate, and the Lemon found itself flailing in the face of new competition.
Dan Martini and chef Nate Dukes, who are now managing the room under a contract with the owners, hope to recreate that original success, but with some tweaks to make it more mainstream and welcoming to newcomers.
The interior has been painted, and the signature “lemon tree” over the bar has been removed. The raised platform area will get arcade games, and big-screen TVs will be mounted in other spots.
An all-new menu will include 12 specialty burgers. Martini Bros. operated the kitchen at the Golf Dome in Girard from 2009-11, and during that span won the Mahoning Valley Burger Review Board’s Burger of the Year award.
Martini’s also will incorporate a “Man vs. Food”-esque challenge: the Heart Attack on a Plate, a 5-pound burger. Those who can finish it will get their name on the Wall of Fame.
A new exterior sign also will be mounted very soon.
An entertainment schedule is already in place: trivia night on Tuesday, karaoke on Wednesday, stand-up comedy and music on Thursday and DJs and bands on weekends.
On tap for this Saturday is the annual Winter Solstice Celebration, which will include Pittsburgh art-rockers Van Allen Belt, house DJ favorites Rope and TYGR, a light and visual installation by Jquest and Yakov Havrinski, and dance by Tribe of EOS.
Most interesting, perhaps, is the reinvigoration of the gallery space at the rear of the room, under the direction of Daniel Rauschenbach.
Dubbed the McKelvey Gallery of Fine Art, the room will be inaugurated at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with a reception for three of the region’s top artists who will be showing their works: Maple Turner III, Jason Van Hoose and Michael Green. Rauschenbach and Nicole Emery also will show their work.
Rauschenbach is currently renovating the third floor of the building into a full-sized gallery with studios, and is shooting for a February opening. He plans to create an umbrella organization for artists based in the 6,000-square-foot space to help them generate sales.
JEWELRY ARTIST RECOGNIZED FOR COKE BOTTLE BRACELETS
A bracelet made by jewelry artist Lori Minarcik of Salem has caught the attention of the Coca-Cola Co.
Minarcik uses segments from vintage Coke bottles, with sterling silver clips and accents.
Coca-Cola noticed the item on Minarcik’s Etsy.com page, and included it in a gift guide segment on its website (coca-colacompany.com; click on the Gifts from Etsy link at the bottom of the home page).
Here’s the text that accompanied the item on the website:
“It took Ohio-based artist Lori Minarcik of G & L Treasures a year of tinkering and fine-tuning to create the perfect bracelet fashioned from vintage, 6-ounce embossed Coca-Cola bottles. The result is a chic, sterling silver-accented cuff that’s hand-cut and frosted by Minarcik, who specializes in crafting one-of-a-kind upcycled jewelry.
The bracelet costs $95.
Minarcik works out of her shop at 639 E. Eighth St., Salem. Her website is gandltreasures.com.
Coca-Cola long ago stopped making the old-fashioned bottles, and acquiring them is a constant pursuit for Minarcik. She is familiar to antique dealers in the area who call her whenever they land a few of the bottles.
When the old grandstand at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds in Lisbon was torn down earlier this month, a cache of the old bottles that had been discarded were unearthed. Minarcik promptly sought them out.
The Salem woman uses the entire bottle to make jewelry, including earrings from the lip, pendants from the bottom and, of course, bracelets from the middle.
“Some people have bought the whole set,” she said.
‘DRAG QUEEN’ FILLS SEATS
“How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas” just keeps getting bigger.
The risque annual holiday show presented by Rust Belt Theater Company saw a 25 percent increase in attendance over last year — in spite of an unusual amount of cancellations because of snow.
The Calvin Center auditorium was very close to its 350 capacity for last Friday’s performance. And attendance at the midnight show last Saturday topped 250 — more than doubling last year’s box office.
“Drag Queen,” now in its eighth year, completed its two-weekend run Saturday.
MORITZ IN BROADWAY DEBUT
Youngstown native Michael Moritz made his on-stage Broadway debut Tuesday as the piano player/vocalist in “A Night with Janis Joplin.”
Moritz is also a producer of the musical, which recreates the late, great bluesy singer with the unmistakable voice.
Mary Bridget Davies has the title role in the show, which opened Oct. 10 at the Lyceum Theater.