By Kalea Hall
A saw roars in one corner of the heart of Youngstown and, in another, a jackhammer beats a rhythm on concrete.
Construction is happening throughout downtown making way for new restaurants, bars and a hotel.
The entrepreneurs behind the ventures all agree: They are excited to be a part of what’s happening here.
The 125-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at 44 E. Federal St. is now scheduled to open in March 2018.
“We are starting the process of hiring general managers and sales directors,” said Dominic Marchionda, CEO of NYO Property Group, the downtown development company behind the hotel project.
The hotel will feature a steakhouse, a coffee shop, a bank and a restaurant named YOSTERIA.
Alex Zordich, a 26-year-old Youngstown resident, is the owner of YOSTERIA. While studying for his masters degree in viticulture and enology in Tuscany, Italy, Zordich explained his restaurant’s concept: to bring back the “osteria,” which dates back hundreds of years and is known for serving the locals simple food and wine.
YOSTERIA will provide hand-crafted wine, bread, regional Italian food and a sense of community. Lunch at the restaurant will include Italian-style pizzas, panini, street food and rustic bread. Evening dining will have simple foods that are for sharing. The wine at YOSTERIA will be made by Zordich, and the menu will also have select other wines for customers.
“It’s just really great to see what’s happening in Youngstown,” Zordich said. “That was a big part of my decision [to be downtown]. I really cannot believe it. Every day I am preparing for it. I am just honored to be a part of what’s going on in Youngstown right now.”
WHISTLE & KEG
A self-serve craft beer and wine bar will open sometime this month at West Federal and Phelps streets at the former site of the Friends Specialty coffee shop.
Owners and brothers Mike and Joe Thomas said they had to bring the self-service bar to Youngstown after visiting a similar bar in South Carolina in April this year.
“We were guests and loved it and decided to bring it to Youngstown,” Joe said.
Here’s how it works: Customers come in, check in with their identification and credit card and get a wristband with a computer chip installed and glasses. From there, customers can check out the 44 taps across the wall. Seven of the taps are wine or cider, and the rest are beer. A tablet above each tap gives customers details of what’s flowing out of the tap before they scan their wristband and purchase a glass. Customers are charged by the ounce.
“There’s no waiting,” Mike said. “When you’re ready, you get what you want.”
What’s offered will be rotated often. The goal is to keep it local at Whistle & Keg, not only with the brews but with other products used at the bar.
If customers want a different beer or wine, they can use a bar rinser to rinse out their glass.
The bar will have a modern but old-school feel to it with the latest technology and old treasures on display such as a Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. steam whistle outside that will be set off at least once a day.
The brothers and business partners knew from the start they wanted their bar downtown.
“We are advocates for downtown in general,” Joe said. “We see positive things happening down here. We think it will really help us engage a customer base that’s not being engaged.”
While they didn’t grow up during the heyday of downtown with shops and restaurants galore, they heard the stories of what it was like.
Seeing the slow revival of downtown with new housing, restaurants and a hotel made the brothers want to be a part of the next heyday.
“We love seeing other places come [downtown],” Joe said. “We feel like our timing is perfect.”
Before the end of the year, Erie Terminal Building on Commerce Street, will be home to the popular Struthers restaurant, the Kitchen Post.
Owner Ross Fowler will expand his business when he relocates from his 30-seat restaurant on Youngstown-Poland Road in Struthers to the expected 100-seat downtown spot.
“[We will] focus on raising the quality and the presentation of our product and creating a better overall experience,” Fowler said.
The new restaurant will have about the same options as the current Struthers location, which is known for weekend brunch and taco Tuesdays, but the menu, Fowler says, will be a little more streamlined, and there will be alcohol.
“It will be a true, fast casual place,” Fowler said.
The atmosphere will be similar to the current location with a mix of “a lot of things,” Fowler said.
“We will have school bus booths,” he said. “There’s going to be ... pop culture all over the walls.”
Ryan Sheridan, a local developer and owner of Braking Point Recovery Center in Austintown, has one project that’s nearly finished, another a few months out and another that will begin next year.
Sheridan is reopening the former Rust Belt Brewing Co. tap house as the Youngstown Tap House in the Erie Terminal Building. The Youngstown Tap House will have craft beer and fresh sandwiches.
Sheridan expects to open the doors at the tap house sometime this month.
The Cove at Wick, Sheridan’s downtown restaurant project at the Wick Building on the corner of West Federal and Phelps streets, should be ready for the public by mid-November.
“A chef has been hired, and we are ready to have fun,” Sheridan said.
The restaurant will offer “something for everyone,” Sheridan said.
Fitting in with its name, The Cove will have a coastal and industrial theme.
“I travel a lot, and I always like when I am near the ocean,” Sheridan said. “I want to try to bring a little of that home with me.”
The Gallagher Building project was pushed back until next year because Sheridan had to reapply for historic tax credits.
The building located at Commerce and Hazel streets is 113 years old.
The Gallagher Building’s story goes back to 1904 when it housed the John Gallagher Co. wholesale liquor establishment. John Gallagher was a successful liquor seller. He had the neoclassical, four-story warehouse built to support his business until Prohibition came in 1920.
In more recent years, the Gallagher Building was home to Cedar’s, a rock ’n’ roll bar that was there for more than 30 years until it moved to the West Side in 2013 upon the building’s expected renovation.
Sheridan’s company, 131 Commerce LLC, purchased the Gallagher Building from The Gatta Co. of Niles for $280,000 at the end of 2016.
Sheridan plans to revamp the building to have apartments in the upper floors and a restaurant on the first floor.
“I have my apartment downtown in the Realty Building, and I just love the city life downtown,” Sheridan said. “I want to be a part of that. It’s just a really fun place.”