You soon will be able to charge your electric car while dining on a char-grilled flat iron steak or perhaps shaved fried Brussels sprouts at one of Akron’s iconic restaurants.
Papa Joe’s Iacomini’s, now in its 85th year, on Friday installed two charging stations for Tesla electric cars outside its Akron Peninsula Road facility in Merriman Valley. They’ll be free for customers to use.
Papa Joe’s is looking to the future, being environmentally friendly and putting itself on the map — a national map showing electric vehicle charging stations, said Kim McLaughlin. She is the granddaughter of founder August Iacomini and one of three family members running the business.
“We want the next generation,” she said. “We recognize what the future holds. We want to be a part of it.”
Her husband, Hugh, a family doctor with a practice in Cuyahoga Falls, proposed the idea for the charging stations.
The family thought the charging stations would be a good upscale addition to the restaurant and help attract a different, perhaps younger, clientele, said Hugh McLaughlin.
He became intrigued with Tesla Motors Inc., the high-end American electric car maker based in Palo Alto, Calif., and bought a Tesla Model S luxury sedan three weeks ago. The car can travel as far as 300 miles before needing to be recharged. McLaughlin drove the Model S to Michigan recently to visit his son.
“It’s the nicest car I have ever driven in my life. It’s wonderful,” he said.
McLaughlin pitched the idea to Tesla about putting charging stations at the restaurant.
“They gave us the charging stations for free,” he said. The restaurant paid for the installation.
“I thought if you get Tesla involved, you would be thinking outside the box,” he said. “People can charge while getting dinner, a drink or take-out. Tesla thought it was a great idea.”
Jim Cultrona, head of Advanced Electric Co. Inc., in Akron, put together the Tesla stations with crew members on Friday.
“It looks like Tesla has made it a very simple installation. Well engineered,” Cultrona said. The 80 amp chargers, which are connected to the power grid, will recharge an electric car quickly and should be available for use by early next week, he said.
Tesla also is building a national network of what it calls Supercharger stations to allow its cars to drive coast-to-coast on popular routes. Tesla owners use the facilities for free; they are typically located near restaurants and shopping centers. The company has 91 of the solar-powered stations in North America; they can give a Tesla Model S half a charge in 20 minutes. The nearest Supercharger station to Akron is in Macedonia on Macedonia Commons Boulevard, near Interstate 80.
Tesla also refers its vehicle owners to the website Recargo, which maintains and updates a list and maps of known electric vehicle charging sites. The site shows eight publicly available electric charging stations in the immediate Akron area, not including Papa Joe’s.
Hugh McLaughlin said he hopes the Papa Joe’s charging stations will make Akron a destination for electric vehicles once word spreads.
“We’re just trying to break out of the mold,” said Kim McLaughlin. “We’re into the future.”
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.