Summit County foodies are still getting over the shock of learning that Grappa's, Scot Jones's upscale Italian restaurant in Fairlawn, is out of business. When it opened nearly two years ago, Grappa's was a dream come true for Jones, an Akron chef who had spent nearly a decade planning for it during his daily commute to Johnny's Bar on Cleveland's West Side. Most of Jones's friends and followers had no clue the restaurant was in trouble. "He was here just a few weeks earlier, teaching a class," says Carole Ferguson, owner of Hudson's Western Reserve School of Cooking. "He invited us all to come dine at Grappa's, and everything seemed to be going smoothly. If he knew he was closing then, he never let on." The space at 2685 West Market Street has been taken over by Akron restaurateur and chef Beau Schmidt, who owns Beau's Tavern on Merriman Road in the Cuyahoga River Valley. Schmidt plans to reopen the West Market spot later this month as Beau's Grille, a fine-dining restaurant with a full menu of steaks, seafood, and veal. According to Schmidt, he negotiated the purchase with Jones's investors, who "wanted out of the restaurant business." Grappa's closed October 16.
More Summit views . . . Cross out a visit to Hudson Crossings from your to-do list: The cavernous restaurant, brewpub, and banquet center at 5416 Darrow Road closed in mid-October. Locals say the restaurant, which opened in January 1999, had long struggled with slow business, changing personnel, and growing financial difficulties . . . King Cantina (180 West Streetsboro Street, Hudson) is changing direction. Word has it that the space will lose the south-of-the-border look and reemerge as a sports bar by mid-month . . . Two new restaurants are coming to Twinsburg's Town Center (Route 91 and I-480). DiFranco's Italian Restaurant (8870 Darrow Road, 330-425-3221), an intimate 62-seat spot featuring upscale Italian fare, should open sometime this month. This is chef-owner Ben DiFranco's first sit-down restaurant, although he previously owned a catering and carryout spot in Solon. And Mavis Winkle's Irish Pub will be opening sometime after the first of the year. Owners Mary Jo and Bill Demopoulos are working with Johnson and Wales grad Bill Fulop to design the eclectic menu . . . The unusual round building on the corner of Highland Road and Route 8 in Macedonia is getting yet another makeover, this time as a Mongolian-style barbecue and Chinese restaurant. The curious space, built in the 1960s, has been everything from an Amish-style restaurant to a western steak house, but never for very long. Limited visibility and poor accessibility through the busy intersection have plagued the spot for years. One hopes the new tenant has a plan to overcome those problems.
Good sports . . . Former Browns wide receiver Reggie Langhorne has teamed up with West Sider Kevin McNamara to launch McNamara's Grille and Pub, a 6,000-square-foot restaurant and sports bar at 33137 Center Ridge Road in North Ridgeville (440-327-0800). Besides a moderately priced menu of steaks, pasta, seafood, and veal, the restaurant offers plenty of authentic sports memorabilia from present and former Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians players; 11 wide-screen TVs; and visiting sports celebs. Langhorne plans to preside over daily operations and will see to it that a portion of the proceeds from merchandise sales goes to support children's charities. The spot should be opening soon.