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The Suburbanite
  • Bold Face: Pete's Grill gets new life, but keeps the pizza

  • New owner R.J.Van Almen says Pete Papacostas’s restaurant  is ‘almost turn key.’

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  • R.J. Van Almen has purchased the former Pete’s Grill & Pizza business at 401 Cherry Ave. NE, and is leasing the space from owner Pete Papacostas.
    To describe the 37-year-old president of the Greater Canton Amateur Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater Canton Aquatic Association as enthusiastic about his latest venture would be to sell him woefully short.
    “I  bought the business last Thursday, got the keys on Friday and we’ve been working on this ever since,” said Van Almen, who formerly owned local drive-throughs and wine shops.
    No menu has yet been locked down but he stresses quality in what will be a six-day-a-week lunch and dinner operation.  What he has locked down is the kitchen king Don Trubisky, who long worked the culinary magic at John’s Bar and is a past president of the Tri-County Restaurant Association.
    “When I think dinner, I think steak, a thick pork chop, scrod, good solid food,” said Van Almen. “I understand the bar end but the restaurant end kind of scared me. That’s why I’m glad I have Trubisky. Anyone can get a burger at McDonald’s but we have to get this right every single time.”
    Referring to Papacostas, Van Almen gave glowing reviews.
    “It was basically a turn-key operation. When I went in there the first time, I thought that if I ever had a place it would be like Pete’s. Pete really had that place laid out. And his pizza is coming with us, too,” he said.
    With pocketsful of friends and acquaintances, Van Almen, a divorced father of two, says he’s hired a Cincinnati company to conduct employment interviews today 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m.
    His target customer base of young professionals will demand fast, quality lunches.
    “We need scoop and go. Meals should be on the table in five or 10 minutes because everyone is busy at lunch time,” he explained.
    He’s serious about “uniformed security with arresting capabilities” and tentative about a Dec. 1 opening date. And he still hasn’t settled on a name.
    NO ENCORE FOR MERCIER
    It was unusual the number of long-time employees who worked at Mercier Tool & Die on High Avenue SW. A week ago Friday, those employees were told that would be their last day on the job.  
    At the time, Sharon Mercier spoke through an office employee saying there would be no comment on the closing.
    But a decades-long employee and journeyman tool-and-die maker who lost his job provided the single sheet of paper handed out that day.
    “You may pick up your tool box and personal items Monday between 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.” was the first instruction. Hospitalization coverage ended Oct. 31, it continued. “There will be no Cobra offered because the plan is dissolved after a business closes.”
    Page 2 of 2 - More housekeeping details and then:
    “There are no words to describe how awful John (Mercier) & I feel that it came down to Mercier Tool & Die being forced to close the doors after 66 years. We would like to thank you for the many years of service and we wish you well!”
    CAK SCORES GOOD INK
    The November issue of Smart Business Akron/Canton magazine features Rick McQueen and Kristie VanAuken in its cover story. McQueen, whose photograph appears on the cover, is president and chief executive officer of the Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) while VanAuken is senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer.
    Anyone who has used the airport over the years could not help but notice that it quite simply gets better and better, thus the hook for the feature. Early in the story, credit was accorded the late Fred Krum who, for 28 years, gave his heart, soul and vision to CAK’s development.
    Today, McQueen and VanAuken carry on Krum’s dream, making CAK a force to reckon with. Easy in. Easy out. The airport has developed devotees who drive from Cleveland and points beyond simply because it has a better feel and functionality than larger venues.
     OMNIUM-GATHERUMS
    Everything is half off Saturday at Habitat for Humanity’s Restore at 4525 Cleveland Ave. NW. Co-manager Sue Wiley says a 50 percent-off Saturday sale is highly unusual. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “We have some commercial restaurant equipment right now. Two warmers and a mixer and a commercial soft-serve ice cream machine,” Wiley said. If you are looking for solid oak kitchen cabinets, Restore has received a selection of gently used ones, she added ... If you were downtown Saturday night and could have sworn you heard the Michael Stanley Band playing somewhere, you were dead on. Downtown developer Steve Coon hired the Cleveland band to headline a surprise 50th birthday celebration for his wife, Jenny, at The Canton Club. “I told her I’d sing to her and I went up front but then I told her I was a lot of things but I was no Michael Stanley and he came out. He was just phenomenal,” said Coon of the party with a guest list of 125 ... Last but far from least, remember to wish Domenico the Tailor a happy 81st birthday Saturday. Still working, still smiling, still high on downtown.