Canfield Natives Bring New Taste to Old Perkins Building

CANFIELD, Ohio – Brunchn’ It Up is not only a new restaurant to come to the old Perkins in Canfield, but a new venture for Tracy Symons, owner and sous chef.

“This is a wing and a prayer,” she said. “This is something that I always wanted to do and I saw a need, and I figured ‘OK, let’s try this out.’”

The idea of Brunchin’ it Up, 587 E. Main St. just off the state Route 11-U.S. Route 224 interchange, came to life when Symons crossed paths with her friend and classmate from Canfield High School, Mark Novotny. Since they had graduated, Novotny has been working as a chef in the area, she said.

“By chance, he was cooking for The Manor,” Symons said. “I went into there, we started talking, told him what I wanted to do, one thing led to another and before we knew it, we got the Canfield Perkins location.

With limited areas to get breakfast in Canfield, Novotny, executive chef, said he would like to bring something back to the community. Even though this is a new venture for Symons, people would not be able to guess it’s her first time, he added.

Once Brunchn’ It Up obtains a liquor license and opens for business by spring of 2020, Novotny will roll out a dinner menu, he said. For now, customers can expect fancier brunch items and breakfast foods, he added. 

“This isn’t the end,” Novotny said. “There are more goals.” 

After looking around for a year and a half for a place to do the new restaurant, Symons and Novotny drove by the Canfield Perkins location to see the closing signs, she said. The Canfield natives called Platz Realty Group and they hopped on it as quickly as possible, she added.

The building was acquired for $475,000 and it will be completely remodeled, Symons said. A $150,000 to $200,000 investment will go toward new kitchen equipment, interior upgrades and to make sure everything is up to code, she added. 

“Not your momma’s breakfast food” was Symons’ description of what customers can expect when they venture to Brunchn’ It Up, she said.

Ingredients are being sourced from Canfield and Columbiana farmers. What Symons and Novotny cannot get from local farmers will come from local distributors such as Kaleel Brothers Inc. in Youngstown, Symons said. 

“We want to bring fun creativity back to the food scene in the Youngstown area,” Symons said. “Youngstown does Italian good, but outside of that, it seems food is a lot of chain restaurants. We would like to bring fresh, locally sourced, good home cooking and stuff you can’t find unless you go to the Pittsburgh or Cleveland area.”

With plans for her customers to be able to indulge their inner child, Symons will be making cereal based cocktails, she said. 

“If you liked Cinnamon Toast Crunch as a kid, you can get a Cinnamon Toast Crunch flavored cocktail, and a lot of the places that make it use pre-made mixes,” Symons said. “Almost all of our simple syrups will be made in house.” 

Although work on the building is ongoing, it is not stopping Symons and Novotny from doing business. A food trailer was purchased to start rolling out the menu in the near future and to do samples for the area to start building a customer base, Symons said. 

Once health inspections are complete and everything is squared away, the food trailer will be out and about in Canfield and on the Village Green, Novotny said. 

Customers can still expect the same quality of food out of the food trailer, Symons said. Since it’s starting to get colder, the menu will be geared more toward breakfast sandwiches, soups and chilis, she added. 

“It wasn’t planned that way because we had been looking for a year and a half for a building,” Symons said. “We couldn’t find one, we ordered the trailer and three weeks later, the building came up for sale, so everything compiled at once, which is a great problem to have.”

The building came on the market after a temporary restraining order against Campbells Land Co. was filed by Perkins & Marie Callender’s LLC in late June of this year. The franchisee was requested to cease operations at 26 locations – 15 in Pennsylvania, 10 in Ohio and one in New York.

“I feel bad for the people of Canfield who ate there and if they’re still alive from not having food poisoning, I’ll take care of them when they come back,” Novotny said with a laugh. 

The filing included allegations that the franchisee failed to pay $2.2 million in royalty fees, failed to make marketing contributions and failed to complete construction projects required by Perkins & Marie Callender’s. It also stated that Campbells Land Co. failed 16 quality assurances, including four failures of food safety. 

“We will not be affiliated with Perkins in any way,” Symons said. “Luckily with that Canfield location, a separate company owned that building and Perkins was just leasing off of them, so we purchased the building and we get to do our own thing.”

Until dinner service is put into place, the hours will be from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Symons said. In addition, cooking classes after hours will be offered for those interested, she added. 

“Cooking should be fun. Cooking should be a community experience,” she said. “That’s what we want to bring it back to.”

Pictured: Mark Novotny and Tracy Symons, co-owners of Brunchn’ It Up, aim to have the restaurant open by spring.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.