TALLMADGE: Call area restaurateur Tony Jaber “Circle Man.”
He has bought another property on historic Tallmadge Circle — this time purchasing the vacant Big Boy restaurant.
Jaber last year bought the former Bumpas Emporium, a landmark on the southern tip of the circle, and located one of his Firehouse Grill & Pubs there.
At the Big Boy site, on the north side of the circle, he plans to renovate the iconic 1960s building, turning it into a 24-hour, family-style eatery “with a retro diner feel.” Plans call for an opening in 2013.
The Big Boy statue left the property some time ago.
The circle is one of the region’s busiest crossroads — and that’s a big attraction for Jaber.
“You can’t buy this kind of traffic in many other places,” Jaber noted, echoing what he said when he bought the former Bumpas property.
Tallmadge officials report that an average of more than 45,000 vehicles pass through the circle each day.
Jaber bought the former Big Boy property for $425,000, closing on the deal this month. That amount is far less than the approximately $1.9 million the former owner, a family-owned partnership, was seeking shortly after the restaurant closed five years ago.
Jeff Davis, a Realtor with NAI Cummins Real Estate of Akron, brokered the sale. Davis said the property had been under contract several times, with at least one of the potential buyers proposing a small strip center.
“The deal fell through each time with what was going on in the economy,” Davis said.
Jaber said the price for the Big Boy property allows him to invest in the building and get “in a position to stay in business a long time.”
He said he had his eye on the Big Boy property for a while. With the success of Firehouse, he thought the area could support a different restaurant — one that would appeal to families and seniors and serve breakfast.
Jaber said the diner look could include booths, a counter and stools.
He envisions opening the place in June; the payroll could total roughly 50 full- and part-time employees.
Over the last 26 years, Jaber, family members and friends have quietly built a chain of Akron-Canton area sports bar-theme eateries that tout low-priced menu items. Jaber, along with his wife, Lori, has business ties to 11 locations, and the two own most of them.
Jaber paid $1.1 million for the former Bumpas facility last year, installing a Firehouse Grill. In February, he plans to open an Italian eatery in the building. Jaber’s bottom line has gotten a big boost from his Venues banquet facility, also at the Bumpas site.
“Really, there’s no other banquet hall in that area,” he said.
The Bumpas building had most recently housed the Grotto restaurant.
Dennis Loughry, economic development director for Tallmadge, said city officials are relieved the high-profile Big Boy property has been purchased.
“We’re excited we’re not going to have a vacant building right on the circle,” Loughry said. “With all that traffic driving by it every day, that should be a productive asset. It should be making both an owner some money and it should be helping the city financially.”
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.