LORAIN — Riding the wave of redevelopment along Broadway, Shawn Grieves and Tim Scholl are looking to bring a restaurant and retail store downtown.
The pair bought the building at 422 Broadway and plan to transform what used to be clothing and jewelry stores into Union Town Provisions. It will offer a casual but “delicious” dining experience, offering house-made cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches, pizza, baked goods, wine and preserves.
“I’m trying to bring like this grand feeling, but comfortable and warm,” Grieves said. Grieves said the space will include a bakery making focaccia and baguettes for sandwiches, and sour cream doughnuts.
“We were told when we were at King Arthur Flour’s baking school that there’s no such thing as a good bake shop without doughnuts …,” Grieves said.
Grieves and Scholl welcomed visitors Saturday afternoon after the Cookie Crawl — hosting what Grieves called the “after-party” with cider and other light refreshments. They wanted to give residents a sneak peek ahead of the scheduled January opening.
Built in the 1880s-1890s, the building once housed 18 offices and stretches almost three times as long as it is wide. Grieves said they plan to keep as much of the original building as possible, sanding the wood floors and circa 1930s-tiles from the jewelry store.
“That tile, of course is just fantastic,” Scholl said. “We’ve been asking a lot of people what was here and everybody knows the Style Center and all the ladies over 60 say, ‘Oh, that’s where I bought my shoes.’ And people have a pretty good idea what was around here — no one is quite sure about this building except that it seems to have been a men’s clothing or shoe store for the last probably 30 years of its existence.”
A basement with 10-foot ceilings eventually will house Grieves’ cheesemaking, something he learned during a summer in Vermont, pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The back section, formerly home to Mark Ballard’s recording studio, will be converted into an event center, and the upstairs is slated for AirBnB space. Scholl said the upstairs won’t be done by January, but maybe early 2020.
After a Vermilion project fell through for Grieves, the Culinary Institute of America-trained chef looked for another home for his latest venture. He and Scholl are members of First Lutheran Church in Lorain and had watched Page and Kurt Hernon’s experience with opening Speak of the Devil on Fifth Street, inspiring their move to Lorain.
“Page is busy, Brew and Stew’s doing their thing and they’re comfortable, busy, so it’s just time to bring Lorain back in full circle and get it happening again,” Grieves said.
“It’s really been crazy to see how these things happen sort of all at once and then there’s sort of one thing that happens — which in this case was (developer Radhika) Reddy buying the hotel — and starting this massive renovation; and I think everyone realized at that point it was serious,” Scholl said. “We just happened to walk in at this crucial moment when we’re between prices going up and some signs of hope.”
Scholl said since starting work on the building — filling dumpster after dumpster cleaning out the space — they’ve received a warm welcome from the Lorain community.
“Since we’ve been around, people keep saying please open — it is obviously a food desert … That’s been really, really exciting that there’s been a really warm welcome from the Lorain community even though we live in Amherst, which comes with some tensions,” Scholl said.
Grieves agreed. They hosted a birthday party in the space in the midst of construction, and the space already is attracting visitors.
“It was just friends of ours, and I left because it was so late. And Tim came home and I was like, ‘Honey, have you been there all night?’” Grieves said. “And he’s like, ‘Yeah, no one wanted to leave’ — that’s a very good sign.”