By Sue Botos
Rocky River may not be Margaritaville, but the proposed Lizardville Beer Store and Whiskey Bar, set to open in spring or early summer, will offer a laid-back alternative for a night out.
It had recently been announced by city economic development Director Kory Koran that a Lizardville, part of the popular Winking Lizard chain, will open in the former Donato’s Pizza location on Center Ridge Road. This was one of several projects, outlined by Koran during his quarterly report to City Council, that will breathe new life into Center Ridge Road – an area some residents felt had been slighted in light of development on Detroit Road.
According to John Lane, partner and vice president of operations for Winking Lizard, this Lizardville will be a “clone” of the successful one that opened last year in Bedford Heights. Not to be confused with the 13 larger, family-friendly Winking Lizard restaurants, Lane said this will be an adults-only destination. “This is the opposite of the Winking Lizard. We’ll play jazz in the background and it will be relaxed, warm and inviting,” he added. Lane said a patio, with an area for cigar aficionados, is also part of the plan. An “inside/outside” bar will be available for warm weather. The intimate location will seat about 30.
With a restaurant in Lakewood, Lane said he was looking at likely locations for a Lizardville. “We had been scouting the West Side for a while, and (Rocky River) was a good fit,” he said.
The highlight of Lizardville, according to Lane, will be a selection of 600 beers and about 170 brown whiskeys, served up by a knowledgeable staff. The emphasis will be on local libations, with as many as 32 draft beers from Ohio and neighboring states on tap.
“This really is a beer and whiskey lover’s paradise,” said Lane adding that wine drinkers will not be ignored. “We’ll offer one red and one white wine,” he said. Margarita fans will not be disappointed either, as a cocktail menu will be available. Choices will include the signature Lizardville Mule.
Although the emphasis is on beverages, Lane said a menu featuring local ingredients will be available. “There will be flat bread pizza, sausage and cheese platters, burgers and Belgian waffles for desert,” he said, adding that “small plates” for sharing will complement the refreshments.
Customers will also be able to purchase their favorite brews, according to Lane, in the atmosphere of a Belgian beer shop, the theme of which will be carried out in a display window. He said that aside from the addition of a patio and landscaping, little would be done to the outside of the building.
Winking Lizard is subleasing the structure from Donato’s, which still holds a lease on the building. Donato’s vice president of development, John Houck, said in a recent interview that the proximity of the store to those in North Olmsted and Lakewood was the reason for its closing. “Pizza is about delivery, and those stores could absorb the deliveries,” Houck stated, adding, “It’s a beautiful site, but we had one too many stores.” He said that Donato’s was unable to get out of the lease, but was optimistic that Lizardville will do well.
That should not be a problem according to Lane, who reported that the Bedford Heights location is doing “fantastic.” Another Lizardville is set to open in the Galleria in downtown Cleveland this summer.