Company NewsWineries in Ohio

CharBenay’s Eyes May Opening in Scope Building

WARREN, Ohio – CharBenay’s Wine on the River is targeting a May opening in the former Warren Scope Center at 220 W. Market St.

Downtown Development Group is renovating the space for the new wine bar, which will be operated by Charlene Butcher and Ben Natali. The group acquired the building, which sits along the banks of the Mahoning River, in February 2018 from the city through its partnership with the Western Reserve Port Authority.

“Warren has this beautiful river the city has never taken advantage of,” developer Mark Marvin said.

“I’m excited,” added Butcher.

Butcher and Natali, who met following the death of Butcher’s husband several years ago, bought a home in Champion and eventually planned to open a winery. “We had wine tastings and we love to entertain,” she said.

Butcher learned of the downtown Warren opportunity through Marvin. She and Marvin have a mutual friend, Sunrise Inn owner Ken Haidaris, with whom Marvin is partnering to reopen the Robins Theatre. Marvin is also a customer at Modern Home Kitchen and Bath, where Butcher works as an office manager.

“[Marvin] found out I wanted to do a winery and he gave me the opportunity to do this project,” she said.

Though the original intent was to develop a winery at the site where wine would be produced, CharBenay’s will instead operate as a wine bar, offering a selection of wines from L’uva Bella Winery & Bistro in Lowellville as well as three or four private-label California wines.

“We are motivated to share good wine and good times with people in northeastern Ohio and be able to jumpstart new opportunities as well as unique events for our community,” said Marisa Sergi, chief financial officer at L’uva Bella, and CEO/winemaker for her Redhead Brands wines, which will be offered at CharBenay’s. “We want to do everything that we can to make sure businesses are successful, especially with all the closings we have had and job loss in the area.”

Additionally, the partnership will provide an opportunity to expose the L’uva Bella and Redhead wines to consumers who have been curious about them. “With Warren being 40 minutes away form L’uva Bella, we will be able to have people who have wanted to come but haven’t had the chance,” she said.

Work on the property is “moving right along,” Marvin reported. The bar is in and being measured for a marble top, and flooring is being installed this week. By mid-April, weather permitting, Downtown Development Group will pour the concrete for the patio, which will overlook the Mahoning River.

“The goal is to have [Butcher] in there May 1,” with an opening later in the month, he said. CharBenay’s will open in two phases, Marvin said. The intent is to have the main bar completed for the May opening, then finish the second phase – a banquet space – six months later.

The wine bar will offer “a short menu” initially featuring appetizers, charcuterie plates, flatbreads and salads, along with a few entrees, “so there will be something for everyone,” Butcher said. An on-site gift shop will carry wine baskets and other gift items.

“It’s a lot to start so I’m going to take it slow,” Butcher said. “We will have wine tastes, we’ll be doing wine classes, so lots and lots of events,”

Future plans include winemaking classes, wine-and-food pairing events, and classes on fermented foods and how they pair with wines, Sergi said. “It’s going to be a little bit of standard events as well as unique offerings to keep things fresh,” she added.

“It’s going to be so exciting. I tell everybody it’s going to be awesome,” Butcher said.

Opening of the wine bar will tie into other downtown Warren activity, including the upcoming River Rock at the Amp season and the planned January 2020 opening of the Robins Theatre, Marvin said. “We need to bring more foot traffic to downtown Warren and this is just one more step to doing that,” he said.

Pictured: CharBenay’s Wine on the River is aiming for a May opening in the former Warren Scope Center.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.