Brad Kowit (left) with chef-partner Zeck Taylor.
DiCillo Tavern wasn’t just the oldest restaurant in Mayfield Heights; it was the oldest business in Mayfield Heights. The longstanding fixture on Mayfield Road has been around in some fashion or another since the area was more forest than concrete jungle. The structure is said to have been built in the late-1920s, when it was a market. It became a tavern soon after Prohibition thanks to receiving one of the first liquor licenses in the region. And that pretty much has been the story for the past 100 years.
Until this one, when commercial real estate professional Brad Kowit fielded a call from a business owner looking to sell. After learning which property it was, he flipped from seller to buyer.
“The family was tired,” Kowit (who happens to be a cousin of mine) says. “We saved the property, we kept the character of the building and we framed all of these great old black and white photos. We even have some of the staff.”
Now called Tavern of Mayfield
(6088 Mayfield Rd., 216-896-5600), the old-school saloon also still has the handsome wood bar made by Brunswick and installed in 1938. Equally attractive is the art deco back bar. The rest of the two-room tavern has been refreshed, as has the exterior.
Also refreshed is the food and beverage program. Chef-partner Zech Taylor, formerly with Red, Wine and Brew in Mentor and Beechmont Country Club has greatly expanded the offerings.
“I have a unique style,” says Taylor. “It blends modern America, Pacific Rim and street food and I’ve developed my own style with it.”
It’s still tavern fare, but elevated with fresh ingredients and solid technique. The chef is particularly proud of his Thai-spiced lettuce wraps filled with chicken and vegetable slaw. There are a handful of fresh half-pound burgers, but also a double smash burger and a salmon burger, all of which are served with house-made chips. There's a Philly steak sandwich, a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and an Italian sausage and pepper hoagie. Taylor plans to add weekend specials like steak and barbecue.
Grab a seat at that timless bar and enjoy dozens of new beers, wines and cocktails along with snacks like Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese, crispy calamari and loaded fries.
Kowit says that for nearly a century, DiCillo was a beloved gathering place for Mayfield residents and he plans to keep it that way.
“I can’t tell you the number of people who have walked in while we were working on the building to check out the place,” he says.
The Tavern of Mayfield is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.