Tallmadge -- By the end of next summer, the property on the Circle that once was home to a Big Boy restaurant may take on a new life while encouraging patrons to reminisce about the past.
When Mogadore resident Tony Jaber bought the property at 116 Tallmadge Circle for $425,000 earlier this month, he added it to his portfolio of restaurants and other businesses in Tallmadge and throughout Northeast Ohio, including the Firehouse Grill and Pub and Venue Banquets in Bumpas Commons on the Circle.
His Italian restaurant named Cortabella's, also in Bumpas Commons, is scheduled to open in February of next year, and Igloos's Frozen Yogurt is slated to open in the small building next to Famous Hair and Trends at the Circle -- also his endeavor -- sometime in March.
Jaber said he had been interested in buying the former Big Boy property that had been vacant since the restaurant closed its doors five years ago because he believes the community needs an eatery that serves "comfort food" around the clock.
"At one time there were five breakfast places in the area, and now they're down to nothing within a quarter of a mile of the Circle. At one time there was a Friendly's, a Perkins, a Big Boy, Wally's on the Circle, a lot of operations, and now there's no restaurants that serve breakfast, especially 24 hours," he said.
Jaber said he looked into buying the property that's at a "premiere" location before he bought the property that's now called Bumpas Commons when the asking price was $1.9 million and then later $1 million, which was not what he wanted to pay.
"I've been around here a long time, and [the Circle has] always intrigued me. I've felt this is one of the best locations in the state, that the traffic count is amazing; you can't buy that kind of exposure," he said.
Dennis Loughry, economic development director for the city of Tallmadge, said over the years regional traffic studies have estimated that 45,000 to 60,000 vehicles drive through the Circle every day.
Jaber again considered snatching up the property after the success of the Firehouse in Bumpas Commons.
"Finally, with the economy, I'd say [the vacant property] was ripe for the picking," he said. "We finally worked out the details, and it had to make sense. If you're going to come in and be successful, you've got to have a budget and understand what you can spend and be realistic."
Although the design of the building and menu items haven't been finalized, Jaber envisions a "retro diner" feel, complete with breakfast served all day and night and burgers and malt shakes as menu staples.
"A lot of restaurants now have gotten away from having a counter and making it that old '60s feel where you can order your breakfast at a counter. I think I can bring that back," he said. "And that's another reason I liked the layout of the building. It brings you back in time a little bit. There's a lot of memories there, and I think we can revitalize that."
According to Summit County property tax records, the building was built around 1965. Jaber said back then, it used to be a car hop where waiters served customers in their cars.
Although he doesn't intend to go so far as making the restaurant into a car hop again, he does want to bring back that feel and that "little piece of history" by redoing the interior while keeping the infrastructure intact.
The retro concept wasn't randomly picked; Jaber said the restaurant primarily will target senior citizens, he also wants to attract hungry third shift workers who drive through the area.
He plans to hire a combination of about 50 full- and part-time workers for the new restaurant.
Loughry said he's "nothing but excited" that someone has bought the property and plans to make it a thriving business that will benefit the owner, the city and the local economy.
"From my perspective, I don't look out my office window every day and know how many cars are driving by it every day, wondering when something's going to happen," he said. "When you have a piece of property on the Circle, it should be a productive asset, and by that I mean it should be making money for the owner and helping the city financially."