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The Suburbanite
  • Park Place promises ‘fine dining experience’

  • Richard and Lisa Nicoletti have long understood the need for high-quality dining in the Portage Lakes. The pair, who acted as silent business partners for The Harbor for five years, recently purchased the four-story building at 530 Portage Lakes Dr. that previously housed Hook Line & Drinkers, with the intention of turning it into an upscale Italian and seafood restaurant to be known as Nicoletti’s Park Place.

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  • Richard and Lisa Nicoletti have long understood the need for high-quality dining in the Portage Lakes. The pair, who acted as silent business partners for The Harbor for five years, recently purchased the four-story building at 530 Portage Lakes Dr. that previously housed Hook Line & Drinkers, with the intention of turning it into an upscale Italian and seafood restaurant to be known as Nicoletti’s Park Place.
    The couple’s plans for the building include an elaborate blueprint that will utilize all four floors of the building and will feature an outdoor grill, cabaret, comedy club, banquet hall and private club. After a complete remodel that will reinvent each floor of the building, plus some structural alterations, the business is scheduled to open July 1.
    “There’s going to be nothing in the Akron area like this,” Lisa Nicoletti said.
    The Nicolettis said that while they’re aiming for an upscale dining experience complete with valet parking and baby grand pianos, they’re careful about designating their business as a special occasion establishment.
    “We want to build a relationship with people, to make them feel appreciated,” Lisa Nicoletti said. “We’re looking for this to be their home.”
    Richard Nicoletti, a Queens, N.Y. native, met his wife while she was pursuing a career in dance in New York City. Nearly two decades later, the pair relocated to Coventry Township along with both of their parents with the intention of starting a family. The Nicoletti's, along with their parents, will act as the managing entity of the establishment. Richard Nicoletti said that during his tenure at The Harbor, he often looked at the building next door and dreamed of opening it. He drew his inspiration from the classic board game Monopoly.
    “The original idea, somewhat jestful, was, I would talk to people and I would say ‘I’m going to buy that next door and call it Park Place and I’m going to rename The Harbor and that’s going to be Boardwalk, so it was all coming out of the Monopoly thought. That was a fun idea,” he said.
    The Harbor, which sits next door to Park Place, was reopened as an On Tap franchise by John Nassos in May and offers a more casual dining experience with an emphasis on beer, wings and other affordable menu items. Richard Nicoletti said he appreciates the need for that kind of business in the area, but wants to bring in a restaurant inspired by his New York roots.
    “The Harbor was, and probably will be in the history ‘the’ restaurant of the area. We were part of that for five and a half years, and we appreciate that notoriety. We’ve lost that now that The Harbor has closed,” Richard Nicoletti, who has worked in the food and beverage industry for his whole life, said. “We don’t have a restaurant that we call a ‘dining experience’ out here, and we’re creating a dining experience. We plan to be the noted entity in Portage Lakes.”
    Page 2 of 2 - For the dining portion of the business, the Nicolettis have designed an expansive menu that will feature fresh pasta, lobster tail, fish and items from land, like osso bucco, lamb and pork chops. A separate, abbreviated menu for the outdoor grill will offer a scaled down version of that menu, with burgers, steak and other entrees. A burger at the outdoor grill will cost around $9, according to the Nicolettis. Though the pair has leased several surrounding parking lots and has one of their own, they also plan to offer a water taxi, pontoon boat rentals and valet parking.
    The bottom floor of the building, which expands out to the lakeside, will now house a cabaret and comedy club, with live music and performances on a stage indoors. Lisa Nicoletti said the new plans include a large, retractable awning and glass door that will open up the space to create an integrated indoor-outdoor experience.
    The second floor of the building, which once housed offices, will be redesigned into a banquet hall that will accommodate up to175 people. An outdoor patio with an oyster bar and lounge-style seating will be available for use of large parties. The top floor of the building will now be the home to a country-club-inspired lounge where people can pay a membership fee and have access to a full bar, expansive lake views and legal lottery games like Keno.  
    The Nicolettis said that after 13 years in the area, they know that Portage Lakes bar patrons are some of the best around.
    “We’re Lakers,” Richard Nicoletti said. “We’re doing this as much for a business entity as we are for Coventry. It’s a great place and the people have treated us very well. I think what we’re going to do is really something to be proud of.”
    Nicoletti said he believes that there’s a certain desire to keep the area a sort of hidden gem, but he believes it’s time for new development.
    “I say this with 13 years of living experience here, without question I understand the mentality of the locals and their want to keep this as secret of an area as possible. I know how difficult it is to share the wonderfulness of the Portage Lakes, but the reality is, there has to be some growth out here. We need to put up with a little bit more traffic, a little bit more noise, a little bit more energy. It’s for the best of the community without question, and I think that the community is ready for it.”
    The Nicolettis will open their doors for business on July 1, and will co-host the Portage Lakes Antique Boat Show along with On Tap at the Harbor on June 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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