LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A Lakewood restaurant struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic has made the ultimate pivot by changing its name and concept to attract new customers.
Lindey’s Lake House in Lakewood re-opened last Thursday as Bar Italia.
Director of Operations Patrick Granzier said that when the first lockdown happened, sales at Lindey's Lake House locations in the Flats and Lakewood took a huge dive.
“We were struggling. We were struggling to stay afloat. We were struggling to keep our employees employed,” Granzier said.
Granzier said the team noticed that customers were ordering more take-out and delivery-friendly dishes during the pandemic, like pasta.
“It travels well,” Granzier said. “It's sort of comfort food, which this time of year right now is perfect.”
With take-out sales making up 40% of their sales, they decided to make a bold move - converting the restaurant from Lindey’s Lake House to Bar Italia.
Granzier said the move was a natural move for the team. He, Lindey’s Lake House and Bar Italia owner Rick Doody, and their head chef all have a background in Italian cuisine and running Italian-themed restaurants.
“We decided the past six months, we'd work on a new concept, changing Lakewood,” Granizer said. “Since we have a Lindey's Lake House 11 minutes away, we would work on going back to our roots and doing Italian again.”
Bar Italia’s menu features an array of Italian dishes, including a mix-and-match pasta and sauce section. The pasta is made by Flour Pasta Company in Moreland Hills. The restaurant also purchases fresh bread daily from On the Rise Artisan Breads in Cleveland Heights.
“The menu has evolved about 30 times. We put a lot of work into it,” Granzier said. “We put a lot of work into it. We divided between all my executive chefs, and we have our final product now, and we are still working on it as well. It'll always be a work in progress trying to make it better.”
Granzier said the menu will change with the seasons and they are finalizing a brunch menu as well.
The menu is not the only thing that went through a major overhaul, staff also made changes to the decor for aesthetics and safety, including plexiglass shields between every table.
“The restaurant world right now it's not just great food and great service, there's a third piece of that and that’s safety,” Granzier said.
Bar Italia is also offering curbside pick-up and free delivery in their fleet of personalized Fiat cars.
“I think when people figure out that hey, it's not gonna cost me an arm and a leg to get this delivered and have a cool little Fiat pull up to their driveway - I think that'll catch on and I think it'll be a success,” Granzier said.
While there’s still more work to be done, Granzier said the reception has been great so far.
“I think it's gonna be a success. I'm very excited about it. It's kind of an old hat for me, for the Italian concept. It's very exciting because there's a whole lot of opportunity with catering and with dine in and continuously evolving the menu and to make it great,” Granzier said. “All the chefs are excited. I'm excited. I think it's going to be great.
Bar Italia is open daily from 4 to 10 p.m. and for brunch Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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