GREEN When construction is completed on the new Ramp Restaurant at the Sandy Beach Marina, it will mark the first new commercial construction in the Portage Lakes in several generations.
"There hasn’t been for a lot of years," said Jim Genovese, owner of the Sandy Beach Marina of his newest venture, the Ramp at Sandy Beach. "I’m 70 and have lived around here my whole life. Even the Harbor is a renovated building and (the former) Nicoletti’s was Pick’s Boathouse."
Genovese and his wife, Zana, said the idea of building a comfortable, yet classy, eatery at their 3719 S. Main St. location began in the wake of the June 2015 fire that destroyed the former Dano’s Pub, at 3910 S. Main.
"Our customers were telling us there was no place to eat on this side of the Lakes – and they didn’t want to wait two hours for hamburger," Zana Genovese said.
Preliminary site plan approved
The Green planning commission has conditionally approved Genovese’s plan to construct a 4,800-square-foot building, including a 15-foot deck with outside seating overlooking Cottage Grove Lake, on the site of the existing lakefront pavilion, which will be removed.
The approval is contingent upon five conditions, mostly having to do with parking. Genovese said he is confident these conditions can be met. Green City Councilman and Planning and Development Committee chairman Bob Young agreed.
"He is busy and motivated; he isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet," Young said of Genovese. "It looks like he is planning on putting in a first-class restaurant that is affordable for a family to go and eat."
Young added that the addition of a newly constructed restaurant in the Lakes, where building stock is otherwise "well used," will be a boon to the entire community.
"It will be attractive to customers coming in on boats or from the road," Young said.
Delayed but not deterred
Genovese said he had hoped to be through the planning approval and permitting process with the city and Summit County – and under roof by Spring 2017. He still thinks construction by this summer is possible.
The building itself, Genovese said, can be constructed in 90 days, once the ink is dry on the proper approvals.
"But we don’t want to open it until we’re ready," he said.
Details on the interior design on The Ramp are still in planning stages, with the Genoveses visiting numerous establishments around the country to glean ideas. The couple has definite ideas, however, about the atmosphere they hope to create.
Zana Genovese said The Ramp will be a place where families can feel comfortable bringing their children, as well being a spot attractive to residents and young professionals in the area. Her husband added that while the food will be top shelf, prices will be such that patrons "won’t feel like they just bought part of the business."
"A friendly place that you don’t really want to leave and you want to come back to," Genovese said. "We want to do a good job."
Meanwhile the marina will be fully operational during restaurant hours, with two docks open to restaurant access.
"They will work hand in hand," Genovese explained. "We want people to be able to walk up to the showroom (from the restaurant), or from across the street."
Response from both nearby neighbors and the Portage Lakes community at large has be largely positive thus far, he added, with the "when are you going to open?" being the most repeated question.
And while Genovese - who remembers the Sandy Beach Restaurant that was leveled in a fire in the mid-1950s and whose first job was as a Sandy Beach lifeguard – is not trying to relive Portage Lakes history, he is cognizant of The Ramp’s place in it.
"People ask me, ‘how can you build a restaurant – what do you know about the restaurant business?’ But I didn’t know anything about running a marina or the mobile home park," he said, gesturing around the showroom of the business he has owned for the past 35 years. "I just want to take the time to do it right."