Hungry? Sample the Menus in Lisbon

LISBON, Ohio – Three new restaurants have opened in or near Lisbon, providing more reasons to visit the historic village.

Nourish Coffee+Kitchen, Cantina 70 and the Elkton Pub and Grill each started welcoming diners in recent months.

Kenzie Kauffman opened Nourish on Oct. 31 with her husband, Keith, based on a diet she began eating due to her own stomach issues. After she switched to a gluten-free diet without processed seed oils and refined sugars, she struggled to find places where she could dine out.

With a restaurant background from helping her family operate Old Towne Country Grille in Leetonia, Kauffman decided it was time to start a business that catered to those seeking fresh ingredients, without preservatives, refined sugars and seed oils. Bread served at Nourish is sourdough, which is easier on those gluten-intolerant. Serving organic coffee, Kauffman makes her own coffee syrups with organic cane sugar, no preservatives and no food coloring.

Her personal favorite is the Harvest Bowl, which has quinoa, kale, sweet potato, brussels sprouts and chicken. But she admits it is tough to choose a favorite because she made the menu from all her favorites.

“My goal is to be as fresh as possible, to [purchase ingredients from] lots of local vendors, because I support other local small businesses,” says Kauffman.

She knows running a restaurant can be tough but in the first few months, business has been “crazy.” Nourish, which sits on the town square near the county courthouse, has developed a regular following of breakfast and lunch patrons.

“The community has been amazing, very supportive of us,” Kauffman says. “So far it has been good and hopefully it will continue that way.”

Nourish was joined downtown in March by Cantina 70, the latest offering of Alejandro Ramirez, who also co-owns the El Paso Mexican Grill in Calcutta, and 1942 Tacos and Tequila in Newell, W.Va.

“This is a smaller menu, but also a smaller location,” says Anthony Ramirez, Alejandro’s son. “But [we]will make the things that someone likes from the other restaurants, as well.”

Cantina 70 focuses on making food from scratch – freshly made salsa, tortillas and meat fillings. Anthony Ramirez recommends the quesabirria – corn tortillas with beef filling, cheese, cilantro and a broth for dipping.

Anthony Ramirez helps to operate the new Cantina 70 Bar and Grill in Lisbon, one of three Mexican restaurants his father, Alejandro, has started.

It took months to open the new location, which is inside a former bar between the courthouse and prosecutor’s office. Ramirez says they had to gut the place, due to disrepair.

The outside has now been painted a bright blue and the inside is no less colorful with handblown glass jellyfish art that Ramirez says his father purchased from an artist in Mexico.

“It’s doing really good so far, the community is really nice,” Ramirez says. “They are all good people, and they are excited to have us here.”

Just outside of Lisbon, in the community of Elkton, a familiar barn has new ownership and a new name – the Elkton Pub and Grill. Built in 1830 and formerly known as the Lock 24 Restaurant for more than 40 years, the place has seen a lot of celebrations.

But Cassandra and Mark Perry hope the Elkton Pub and Grill will be the type of place people visit often, not just for steaks on special occasions, but also for burgers, meatloaf, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. Much of the fare is Irish inspired.

“We don’t want you to come just once a year. That’s not going to keep the doors open,” Cassandra Perry said.

“If you come here just for your special occasions, enjoy that meal, because by the time this anniversary rolls around the next time, it’s not going to be here,” added her husband, Mark Perry.

The couple did not look to open just any restaurant. They wanted to open at this location, where they had a personal history. It was one of their favorite restaurants when the past owners had it.

“Everyone I’ve met absolutely loves this building,” Mark Perry said. “Everyone that comes in here is so happy that the building has been taken care of and is passionate about the building and the area and locale.”

Mark and Cassandra Perry have reopened the landmark barn on state Route 154 as the Elkton Pub and Restaurant, which has an Irish flare to the menu.

And even though they did not keep the name Lock 24, the couple says they want to celebrate the history of it.

Downstairs is a quieter dining area with a bar now called the patio room. They have added Irish pub decor to the upstairs bar, which features live acoustic music, including Celtic music on some evenings.

With 42 years of active and reserve military experience between them, the couple will have a veteran’s wall, which currently consists of some of Mark’s items. However, they hope people will bring their memorabilia to help decorate walls in the pub – a practice common in Ireland, says Mark Perry.

“We want the locals to bring their bric-a-brac and military memorabilia so it can truly be their pub,” he says. “In Ireland, some will say that the pub is on the same rung of the social ladder as the church and what they mean by that is it is part of their community.”

Although they have been busy opening their own restaurants, the owners of all three restaurants have been dining at other locations.

Perry points out they enjoy eating at both Nourish and Cantina 70, but he loves what Matt Borza does at Pondi’s, and they support the other locations. Pondi’s could be considered the great grandfather of restaurants in Lisbon, as it has been in operation for more than a century.

Diners continue to pack Pondi’s, which recently expanded its dining space and kitchen to accommodate 40 more seats. “We’ve been very fortunate with the community support,” says Borza, who has owned Pondi’s with his wife, Jessica, for more than 26 years.

However, community support is not always enough, according to Renee Lewis, who renovated and operated the Courthouse Inn and Restaurant in downtown Lisbon. She also has been trying out and enjoying the new restaurants and says she wishes them all well.

She closed her restaurant during the pandemic and then could not find a suitable chef to create her menu’s fresh and organic fare so she could reopen.

Lewis said much of her customer base came from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Akron and Canton.

“It’s a tough town,” says Lewis of Lisbon. “Not much happens.”

Mayor Peter Wilson disagrees. In addition to the Columbiana County Fair and the Johnny Appleseed Festival, Lisbon has added new events such as the Coal Country Roubaix, which will be a bicycle race; Wine About Winter; a Cookie Crawl; Christmas in July; and Scarecrows on the Square.

Wilson touts amenities in and around Lisbon, such as the Greenway Trail, the Scenic Vista Park, Beaver Creek State Park and the Getaway Cabins. He points out people from big cities spend a lot of money to come to places like these and relax.

“We live here, and maybe we are used to it,” Wilson says. “We’re not aware of the potential these assets have – and they are assets.”

Pictured at top: Kenzie Kauffman opened Nourish with her husband, Keith, on the square in Lisbon, where she shares her love of food made from fresh, nonprocessed ingredients.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.