Restaurant Veterans Team Up at Legends Food & Drink

BOARDMAN, Ohio – You can easily get comfortable at Legends Food & Drink.

The spacious new restaurant and bar has a touch of elegance but with a warmth that beckons visitors into its rooms. Located in the plaza at the intersection of Market Street and U.S. Route 224, Legends will begin welcoming guests Wednesday, with an official opening date of Feb. 1.

It’s owned by a quartet of businessmen and restaurant-industry veterans – Jim Klingensmith, Brian Battaglia, Josh Santangelo and Jim Fortunato – who purchased the former Beef and Keg site and gave it a total makeover.

Klingensmith and Battaglia are executives at L. Calvin Jones in Canfield. Klingensmith owned Trax Restaurant in Austintown from 2006-12, while Battaglia’s family has owned several Valley restaurants.

Fortunato is vice president at 45 Press, a Canfield-based digital design and development company. 

Santangelo, who is an owner and head chef of Prima Cucina Ristorante in downtown Youngstown, will oversee the kitchen at Legends. 

The name refers to the many sports legends who have come from the Valley. With multiple televisions airing games and other events, it’s a great place to watch sports but without the usual trappings of a sports bar, the owners say.

The goal is to be inviting to all, a place where customers will return as often as possible, say the owners. The layout and décor were designed with that goal in mind.

The ceiling over the bar area has been raised and finished with old-fashioned tin ceiling tiles, creating better sight lines.

A 35-seat bar zigzags through the room in a way that allows guests to see each other – and not just face a wall. It offers an extensive selection of wine and handmade cocktails.

There is also a second bar on the patio with seating for about 50.

The dining room has a sparkle to it as well, with lighting fixtures that dominate the room like stars.

“We want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome,” Klingensmith said. “There is something for everyone.”

The food reflects that philosophy.

Santangelo has created a menu that is unique but not intimidating, ranging from sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks and burgers, to steaks, prime rib and seafood. 

It’s not a typical sports bar menu, Battaglia stressed. “It will have reasonable prices but with a more upscale feel,” he said, explaining the price points are set to get customers to come back often and not view it as a once-a-month destination.

“We will have some higher-end items and everything will be great but it’s not fine dining,” Battaglia said.  “The concept is to be a place where everyone feels comfortable, whether coming in for a beer or a high-end bottle of wine.”

While the basic menu will be moderate, the chef will add special dishes on weekends, Klingensmith said.

“We’ll have a nice atmosphere but in terms of spending, it’s for the average guy,” he said. “We want everyone to enjoy themselves and we’re giving them more than they expect, more for their money.”

Chef Santangelo’s restaurant career started when he was a teenager and worked as a cook at his great-uncle’s restaurant, Alberini’s in Niles. After graduating, he moved to the Palm Beach, Fla. area where he operated a restaurant, and then to New York at age 24, where he attended the French Culinary Institute.

Legends also has a banquet room with a capacity of 150 that can be rented for weddings and receptions. Plans also call for dinner shows and wine tastings in the space. “Like the good old days,” Klingensmith said.

There are two smaller rooms with projection equipment that can be rented out for business meetings and events.

Legends, 7334 Market St., will initially open at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with late-night hours. It will offer a brunch menu on weekends, and occasional live music with acoustic acts.

By spring, the restaurant will be open seven days a week at 11 a.m.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.