Economic DevelopmentWines of the Valley

CharBenay’s Celebrates Opening Wednesday

WARREN, Ohio – Following months of work to renovate the former Warren Scope senior center, Charlene Butcher is eager to debut the new CharBenay’s Wine on the River.

Butcher, who is leasing the building from Downtown Development Group, will hold a soft opening Wednesday at the wine bar, 220 W. Market St. After closing for the Independence Day holiday, the bar will reopen Friday afternoon. 

“This weekend is mostly to work out the kinks,” Butcher says. “We’re just so excited. We just want everybody to come in and enjoy, sit and relax.” 

Downtown Development Group acquired the building, formerly owned by the city of Warren, via the Western Reserve Port Authority in February 2018. In May, Butcher set a mid-June target for opening, but weather this spring was “just awful,” impeding the renovation.  

“We finally got a break in the weather and the guys worked really hard,” Butcher says. 

“So much rain,” affirms Mark Marvin, owner of Downtown Development Group. Last week, his workers finally were able to pour the concrete for the 4,000-square-foot patio, 230 linear feet of which run along the bank of the Mahoning River. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Marisa Sergi, chief financial officer at L’uva Bella Winery in Lowellville, which is producing the first eight private-label brands Butcher will serve at CharBenay’s. “Everyone has been working very hard to make every detail and, of course, the wine, to be excellent.”

Other than the challenges posed by the weather, the building was easy to work on, Marvin says. “It’s laid out perfectly,” he says, noting renovations costs were $150,000.

“I really want to show the public what I’ve been up to for the last year,” Butcher says. 

The private-label wines being served at CharBenay’s include Char’s Private Blend, a cabernet; River Rock, named for the River Rock at the Amp summer concert series that takes place at the Warren Community Amphitheatre across the river; and Dar’s Rosé, named for Butcher’s late sister.    

“It’s kind of a special thing. It’s for anyone who has a special friend,” Butcher says. “It’s great sweet but not too sweet wine.” 

The label on the bottle reads, “Thank you for being my friend,” she says.  

“Char and our team have come up with a sweet, crisp and refreshing rosé,” Sergi says. “It’s really going to be a unique offering. A lot of people will enjoy that.”

Other private-label wines CharBenay’s will serve include a white dry chardonnay and a pinot grigio. 

Eventually, CharBenay’s will offer other wines produced at L’uva Bella, including Sergi’s Redhead brand. Plans also call for events such as winemaking classes and a wine tasting with Sergi. 

“I’m definitely looking forward to be to being involved with CharBenay’s,” Sergi says. “We need to support as many local businesses as we can in the Valley.” 

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the wine bar will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. Hours on Fridays and Saturdays will be noon to 11 p.m. Butcher didn’t realize the building was located in a dry district, so Sunday sales would have to be approved at the ballot, which she hopes can be accomplished next year.   

Opening the winery ties the “peninsula” property on which it is located to the rest of downtown, where Downtown Development Group is redeveloping several other properties, Marvin says. 

“It’s going to be a destination place to go” before and after shows at the nearby amphitheater, as well as at the Robins Theatre, which Marvin also is redeveloping, he says.   

Pictured: CharBenay’s Wine on the River owner Charlene Butcher.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.