A&C Southway Beverage Opens Downtown to Cheers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The “Coming Soon” sign in front of the former Edison Financial Credit Union building is coming down.

A&C Southway Beverage, the newest venture in the central business district, opened its doors over the weekend to what its owners call a strong start.

“We were really steady on Saturday,” remarks Al Franceschelli, who along with his wife, Carol, relocated the beverage shop to 45 South Ave. from 2733 South Ave. “I was surprised, since we haven’t put our signs up yet and haven’t really advertised.”

The new location serves a clientele that the older location couldn’t reach, Franceschelli notes. This includes residents of the downtown, professionals and Youngstown State University employees. “We’ve already seen a ton come in here. It’s good for us and I hope it’s good for downtown.”

Franceschelli purchased the building last summer with the intent of creating an upscale wine, beer and liquor retail establishment. “We’d been looking for a building for the last five years,” he says. “When this came open, it was the perfect match.”

The credit union moved its office to Austintown in October.

In the first phase of development was gutting the building — it was filled with 15 offices and cubicles leftover from its former life as a credit union — and then repurposing the space.

Today, the interior walls, painted bright colors, are lined with wooden racks filled with more than 500 varieties of wine. In the center of the store, customers can easily walk wide aisles and view the shelves that hold every nearly kind of liquor imaginable. A refrigerated sidewall is reserved for beer, including 250 varieties of craft beer.

“I’m a wine guy,” Franceschelli says. “I’ve been selling wine for 30 years and that’s kind of my thing.”

This spring, A&C plans to start hosting wine- and liquor-tasting events. Workers on Monday were putting the final touches on the drive-thru operations of the venue.

“We have about 15 employees now. We added about six or seven” since the move, he says. Once the drive-thru is finished, that number could climb to 20. “It takes a lot of people to run something this big. I want these guys to be good at it.”

The new store is brighter and bigger, says Carol Franceschelli. “We’re able to carry a lot more product. We feel as soon as we get new signage up and get this weather under our belt, we’ll be able to pull from different areas.”

Products such as higher-end liquors and wines – a bottle of Ace of Spades champagne retails for $329.99, for example – cigars, and chocolates from Philadelphia Candies will also be offered.

“We’re able to display it nicely here,” she says. “At the old location, we just didn’t have the room.”

Some of the more expensive products are kept under glass, Al Franceschelli notes, pointing to a bottle of 2006 Cristal champagne. The brand was first bottled more than 100 years ago in Reims, France, specifically for Czar Nicholas II of Russia. You can pick up a bottle today for $279.99.

New flooring was installed; the building offers some 6,000 square feet for retail space and another 2,000 for storage. “We had about 4,000 square feet total at the old location,” Franceshcelli says.

The A&C drive-thru should be open next week, Franceshcelli says. Moreover, he thinks other retailers are likely to follow suit once A&C demonstrates that these types of businesses can thrive.

“We’ve gotten a lot of compliments,” Franceschelli says. “I don’t think a lot of people expected it to be this nice. We wanted to take it out of the mom-and-pop realm and bring it just a little higher.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.