Economic Development

Renovations Bring Warren Perkins ‘Back to Life’

By Marah Morrison | November 12, 2019

WARREN, Ohio – Kristen Ramsey has been a server for Perkins Restaurant and Bakery here for 17 years and has had a front row seat to the restaurant’s evolution.

When Perkins, 1953 Niles Cortland Road, got its start, it was in the hands of the late Ray Travaglini, who built his first Perkins restaurant in 1968. Several other owners came into the picture later, including JDK Management Co., which took over the property in September.

“It’s had its ups and downs, but so far it’s in the ups and I love it,” Ramsey said. “We interact with our customers all of the time, so we’ve seen them throughout the whole process and they’re happier and we’re busier.”

Seeing old friends and serving the community is exciting, said Russell Berner, vice president of restaurant operations at JDK. Upgrades from the remodeling allow Perkins to better serve the community and provide them with what’s expected of the restaurant, he said.

“The food and service has been upgraded to our best level and we seem to be very well received,” Berner said. “We’re ecstatic.”

Staff at the Perkins on Niles Cortland Road celebrated the restaurant’s renovations and reopening on Veteran’s Day. It’s one of 13 newly purchased restaurants JDK Management renovated with a $4 million investment. The location on Niles Cortland Road was the first to be remodeled and has brought back guests who stopped coming for a while, said Karen Ramsey, general manager.

“We needed someone to put the money, time and effort into us and bring Perkins back to life,” she said.

Renovations at the Niles Cortland Road location began Oct. 20 and included new paint, booths, carpet, ceiling and equipment. In addition, trainers came in to work with new kitchen and serving staff, Ramsey said.

“It was a newer building, so it wasn’t as extensive,” Berner said. “It was more of a refresh and the nice part is that we have a lot of good people working here and we’re able to add a lot of new, smiling faces.”

The restaurant reopened Oct. 25 with a new menu that brings back Perkins staples, such as baked goods and sandwiches, but prepares them at a higher standard, according to Berner.

“People can enjoy what they remember,” Berner said. “It may just be the heritage items but to the highest standards. I think we know how to do it right and we really have a commitment to our guests to give them the best food and service. That’s what they’ll find.”

In addition to the renovations, the workflow at the restaurant is more organized, noted Kristen Ramsey.

“It’s a positive step forward for the company and it’s exciting to get to work with JDK as a whole,” said Andrea Adams, shift manager. “They have a lot of nice things to offer and for them to come in and do the renovation is going to help get things going in the right direction again.”

Before the Canfield Perkins location closed, Adams worked there and came to the Warren location in August, she said. After the renovations, she has spoken many times with customers who have acknowledged how good the restaurant looks and how organized everything is, she said.

“They feel like the quality has improved and I’m hoping that it brings in more customers and keeps improving as we go,” Adams said.

The restaurant employs 40, both new and existing workers, and has doubled its daily revenue since reopening, said Karen Ramsey.

“We have good food, good service and I think the customers and employees were ready for this,” Ramsey said. “Once the 13 [restaurants] are remodeled, new builds and purchases could be down the road.”

In September, JDK acquired the 13 Perkins locations that were owned by franchisee 5171 Campbells Land Co., which declared bankruptcy in July.

Renovations on most of the 13 restaurants have begun, Berner said. Weather permitting, the Boardman and Austintown locations should be complete by December with the remainder of the restaurants finished by March or April 2020.

“We’re going to tackle them as fast as we can,” he said. “We’re going to look at any opportunities for development for new locations throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio, and nationally as well.”

Pictured: Attending the ribbon cutting for the Perkins restaurant in Warren were AJ Dignan, Shift Manager Andrea Adams, Kristen Ramsey, General Manager Karen Ramsey, Mary Morgan, Debbie Fields and Kelsey Vincent.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.