The Winking Lizard Tavern in Fairlawn closed Saturday. But don’t despair, Winking Lizard fans. It isn’t shut down for good. It’s just relocating down the road.
The Bedford Heights-based chain, known for its extensive craft beer selection and World Tour of Beers program, renovated the former Golden Corral restaurant in Copley Township. The new site -- which opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday (April 17) -- is bigger, offers more draft beers and has more parking.
Perhaps the most exciting news for Akron-area craft beer fans is that it also will house a Lizardville Beer Store & Whiskey Bar, a concept that features about 650 bottled beers that people can buy to take home, 10 draft beers and 175 whiskeys.
It’s the first time the privately owned chain will operate a Winking Lizard and Lizardville under the same roof.
"We’re really excited to test this," partner John Lane said Monday.
The Winking Lizard and Lizardville will be operated as separate entities and each will have a separate outdoor patio. Lizardville is a strict age 21 and over, while the Winking Lizard is more family friendly. You’ll also be able to smoke cigars at Lizardville. You won’t be able to buy a beer in one location and drink it in the other.
"We really are trying to keep the entities as separate as we can to keep the two different atmospheres," Lane said.
The location employs nearly 100 workers. Lane couldn’t say how much was spent on the renovation, but said it was a "substantial investment."
There’s nothing special planned for opening day. Winking Lizard hasn’t even really publicized the opening.
"We’re always kind of quiet," Lane said with a chuckle. "We just kind of open them up."
The Winking Lizard, which has locations throughout Northeast Ohio and the Columbus area, has been in major expansion, renovation mode this year.
The Macedonia restaurant was closed about a week ago for a major renovation. It’s expected to reopen in about two months with a new patio on the front, kitchen and bathrooms.
The chain also opened smaller Winking Lizards in North Canton and Grandview Heights this year. The North Canton site is in the Washington Square plaza along Easton Street Northwest near Walsh University.
"It’s doing absolutely fantastic," Lane said.
The chain also will open a Winks concept in Beachwood along Chagrin Boulevard this fall.