Black Squirrel Pub goes Italian

Jillian Kramer

Mike Beder, owner of Water Street Tavern, formerly Glory Days, cleans up debris Sunday after gutting what used to be the Black Squirrel Pub. Beder bought the pub and hopes to have it renovated and ready to open by early October.

Credit: Ben Breier

They see more than torn up carpet, unpolished floors and an unused patio.

To Aaron Ruggles and Mike Beder, new owners of what was the Black Squirrel Pub, the building has great potential.

“This space was really under-utilized,” said Beder, owner of Glory Days Water Street Tavern. “Since day one, I’ve thought this was a really neat space. It’s got a large bar area, two large dining rooms, the patio has great potential and its location on Route 43 gives it great visibility.”

The pair plan to turn the space into a trendy Italian restaurant “deep rooted in the classics with a hip twist,” said Ruggles, owner of the Bistro on Main.

Beder and Ruggles have owned what was the Black Squirrel Pub for one week and have begun demolition work themselves, Beder said.

For the building’s new design, Beder and Ruggles will rely on professional designers.

“This place just screams Italian to me,” Ruggles said, “with its wooden planks and stone fireplace. We’ll be bringing in a designer to change the layout and carpet style.”

Some major changes to the space include creating a double-sided fireplace, renovating the patio to accommodate dining and live music, refinishing the wooden floors in the bar area and building partitions to separate the dining rooms from the bar.

“We want to make it so that if there is a family or a couple on a date, the dining room will be isolated from the bar area and those families and couples can have some privacy,” Beder said.

The pair is making additional efforts to make the new restaurant more accessible to the public, including watching their prices.

“Some prices are just unapproachable,” Beder said. “We’re still catering to the crowd out here. At our price point, we’re going to be very attractive for people’s money.”

These price points are anywhere from $8 for pasta and $14 for beef and chicken entrees, said Ruggles, who will also be designing the new menu.

While the restaurant is yet unnamed, it is expected to open in October.

“It should be a great place for the community, including Kent (State) students, to come and eat,” Beder said. “It’ll be casual but have a nice atmosphere, a place where people can get a nice meal and it won’t kill their wallet.”

Contact correspondent Jillian Kramer at [email protected].