Grand Opening of Renovatio’s a Roaring Success

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Customers entering Renovatio’s Tap Room and Restaurant Friday night found themselves transported to an earlier era as its grand opening was celebrated with a Roaring 20’s theme. 

Tables in the former Potters Bank and Trust, built in 1924, were filled with flappers in beaded dresses and headpieces and sheiks wearing the customary black suits and fedoras most gentlemen wore then. 

Some went all out, such as St. Clair Township Trustee Jim Sabatini wearing his specially ordered black and white spats and carrying a violin case –which some gangsters from that era used to conceal their machine guns. His wife, Joyce, played along in her fashionable 1920s outfit.

Renovatio’s partners Craig Cozza of Pittsburgh and Randy Schneider of the city joined in the night’s fun in their own suits and bow ties, with Cozza suggesting so many customers responded favorably to the formal attire requested for the open house because “there’s no place to dress up anymore.”

The restauant opened Jan. 30 after months of renovation work at the former bank building, 200 E. Fifth Street, which had sat empty for years until Cozza bought it along with other PNC bank buildings in Pennsylvania. 

“I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. It sat here for four or five years and then Randy came along and we figured it out. Here we are, a lot of money later,” Cozza says, looking over the soaring ceilings, towering pillars and other antique architecture which is now complimented with a new steel and concrete bar, an outside rooftop deck and many other amenities.

When he says, “a lot of money,” he refers to the $1.1 million spent on the project, but he’s not complaining.

“We had to make it great. I’m very excited about it. We did everything we wanted to do. You can have a pizza, you can have a burger, you can have a beer, you can have a steak or the most expensive cognac in the world here,” Cozza says. “Because that’s what people want.”

Renovatio’s grand opening

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It is perhaps fitting the Roaring 20s theme was chosen for the opening ceremony, considering the decade was known for its economic growth and widespread prosperity while “Renovatio’s” is named after the Latin word for “rebirth,” with Cozza and Schneider convinced it will be the start of East Liverpool’s economic awakening.

The tap room and restaurant has seen much success since its opening, with visitors coming from Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Weirton and further down the Ohio River to sample the many craft beers and menu offerings, so much so that the original 42-employee roster has already grown to more than 60, with even more hirings expected in the near future once the license for Sunday alcohol sales can be obtained. 

The building next door has also been purchased with renovation work expected to get underway transforming it into a banquet hall not only for Renovatio’s use but the public’s.

Cozza has other irons in the fire, including working with Mayor Greg Bricker to build a bike trail in the city. Meetings are planned next week to film a presentation about the project in the hope of obtaining grant funding. 

A Renovatio’s Sports and Social Club is also being started which will allow members to grab bikes at the restaurant or at the East Liverpool City Hospital, which is helping sponsor the project, so they can ride where they need to go, such as uptown for lunch or just for a healthy ride. 

Cozza said bicycles are “scarce” and there is a shortage except he owns four – soon to be five – ProBike and Run shops in Pennsylvania and has bikes available. 

“It’s a big thing in big cities. Why not East Liverpool?” Cozza asks.

Opening a sports center in the city would also be a “game changer,” according to Cozza, who says, “It’s unbelievable the traffic it brings: Hotels, restaurants. I’m excited about that. I’ve seen how it changes a community. If we can bring it here, this town will blow up. For me, it is probably the best tourism vehicle out there right now.”

The idea is to build such a center along state Route 11 on property near the now-closed Review building, which he said could possibly be incorporated as part of the project. 

“This downtown is amazing. We have a lot of people who want to be here. Let’s figure out what other buildings we can buy. Seeing the community embracing [Renovatio’s] makes me want to do more,” Cozza says.

The opening ceremony Friday night also featured jazz and blues performed by The Willis Gordon Band.

Renovatio’s is open from 11 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. 11 p.m. Saturdays. Reservations are not required but can be made by calling 330 932 0568.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new business is planned by the Southern Columbiana County Regional Chamber of Commerce at 6 p.m. May 7 as part of “First Fridays on Fifth,” sponsored by the restaurant and East Liverpool City Police and featuring an open air market on East Fifth Street with craft vendors, live music and more. 

Pictured: Patrons at the grand opening of Renovatio’s in East Liverpool played their part in the Roaring 20s theme, which pays homage to the decade the building – the former Potters Bank and Trust – was built.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.