When his customers speak, Parma restaurant owner and franchisee Joe Doleh listens. And what his Rib Crib patrons were telling him, Doleh reports, is that beyond the menu's hickory-smoked ribs, brisket, and sausage, what they really wanted was to be able to tuck into a thick steak and wash it down with booze. Unfortunately, while this may be the cowboy way, it's not the Rib Crib way. As a result, Doleh and his casual barbecue restaurant are parting ways with the Rib Crib posse, after having reached a mutually satisfactory agreement to terminate the franchise arrangement.
Doleh's new concept, Saddleback Barbecue and Saloon, will maintain the Rib Crib's western-style decor and meaty hickory-smoked ribs while adding an expanded menu and a full bar. The transformation should be completed by the end of July, pending City Hall's approval of signage. Lunch and dinner will be served 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, while the enlarged saloon will dish up bar noshes later in the evening.
The Parma Rib Crib was the 22nd outlet for the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based bastion of barbecue and the first in Ohio. It opened in January, at 5680 Broadview Road, in space that had formerly housed a Ponderosa.
Net gain . . . The brass-and-frosted-glass decor, inherited from former occupant T.G.I. Friday's, is casually comfy; the view from the riverfront patio is scenic; and the food, prepared under the sharp eye of executive chef Todd Hargis -- former Special Project Chef for Hyde Park Restaurant Group -- is plentiful and good-tasting. (Check out those grouper tacos.) You want something more? Then chew on this: Riverwalk Café (in the Powerhouse, 2000 Sycamore Street, on the west bank of the Flats) is one of just a handful of area eateries to offer free wireless internet access, just right for multi-tasking laptop users.
The service, which extends to the outdoor patio, allows computer-holics to send and read e-mail while sipping on an alfresco margarita or downing an oversized salad, and has been catching on big with students, business types, and travelers since the return of warm weather, says bar manager Josh Adams. Connecting is a breeze: Just ask the nearest staffer for the restaurant's channel number, and log on.
For the technologically underprivileged, who somehow stumble through life sans laptop, the restaurant also offers an indoor computer kiosk. All they ask is that you try not to dribble your Powerhouse Punch or Blue Moon martinis all over the keyboard.