At age 65, Royce Lewis is turning his hobby into a sweet venture.
The retiree has long made ice cream for family and church events, and now he has opened Suntonio’s homemade ice cream and baked goods shop at 1328 Copley Road in West Akron.
The West Akron man knows his foray into entrepreneurship is a risky one — any business is. Lewis acknowledges that though he has spent thousands buying professional equipment and outfitting his cheery shop, his may be an especially risky enterprise. After all, it’s part of a retail strip that has seen its fair share of comings and goings.
“You don’t go into business overconfident,” says Lewis, who worked in dispatch for FirstEnergy Corp. “There’s so many scenarios that could cause you to fail.” He knows all too well that the Henry’s Acme grocery store, about a mile away, closed this spring, amid increased competition from discount food stores and dollar stores. The store was the Acme Fresh Market chain’s only franchise and the city had provided financial help to the operation, wanting to help revive the area.
But for now, Lewis is looking up. Last weekend’s grand opening at the former clothing shop west of Hawkins Avenue drew many patrons eager for a cool treat.
“The cantaloupe sold out,” said Priscilla Cunningham, 17, who works at the store part time and lives near the shop. She said it should appeal to those in the neighborhood. “There aren’t a lot of local food places like this … it feels more like home.”
That’s cantaloupe as in cantaloupe ice cream made right there at the shop’s immaculate kitchen.
While Lewis promises to have the “hall of fame” flavors of chocolate and vanilla every day, he’s an experienced ice-cream maker willing to get adventurous. Last weekend, flavors included cantaloupe (he brought out more after the counter ran out), blueberry, pineapple and banana, all made with fresh fruit. Lewis also had made batches of orange and strawberry. He makes banana splits and shakes.
His wife, Bernice “Shorty Bobb,” is a “well-noted baker in the community,” Lewis says proudly, and she’s the baker of the operation. For the grand opening, she made cupcakes and brownies, among other goodies — all stocked in the counter that Lewis made. Baked goods will change daily, and among items that will appear are sweet potato pie and cake pops. Also on the menu are Hebrew National beef hot dogs and chips, along with coffee and tea.
The couple’s son Orlando Lewis, a graphic artist who lives in Delaware, helped design the shop’s interior, which includes walls painted to look as if ice cream is dripping from the ceiling.
A visitor mentions that the drips resemble chocolate ice cream. Lewis says no, “actually, it’s caramel. I’m a caramel person.”
So where does the Suntonio name come from that’s emblazoned on the large yellow sign, also designed by the younger Lewis? Royce explains that it’s an email handle. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Call 330-780-5139.
Blue Door dinner
The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery in Cuyahoga Falls, which in June began dinner service, is offering a way to enjoy four courses — which celebrate local, fresh and seasonal food — and not feel as though you can never eat again.
Diners at the restaurant at 1970 State Road can choose four courses from a tasting menu, with portions that are smaller than the conventional menu, for $55.
The menu changes weekly under the direction of chef Torsten Schulz, a Michelin-starred chef, and each course includes a vegan and gluten-free option. Courses one and two offer two choices each and consist of salads, soups and lighter entrees. Course three offers four main dishes — meat, seafood, poultry and vegan. Course four offers two dessert choices, including a vegan treat.
Dinner is offered from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday only at the eatery at 1970 State Road. Call 330-926-9774. Go to http://bluedoorcafebakery.com. Owner Michael Bruno regularly updates the eatery’s Facebook page, posting magazine-quality shots of the diverse array of eats. Bruno is seeking a liquor license. For now, he offers creative non-alcoholic drinks as well as sparkling and still waters.
Taste of Akron
For the ninth year, many of the area’s favorite eateries and food purveyors will be gathering in Hardesty Park in West Akron on July 24 for the Taste of Akron.
Let’s hope organizers have figured out a way to better handle crowds. Many attendees last year waited in long lines for both the tickets needed to buy food, and for the samples at vendors’ tables and food trucks.
The event precedes the Akron Arts Expo weekend at Hardesty Park, which is off West Market Street in the Wallhaven area of the city. Food tickets are $2 (no price increase!), and restaurants sell items for one, two or three tickets ($2, $4 or $6). There’s also beer and wine.
For more information, call 330-375-2836 or go to www.akronartsexpo.org.
Italian food truck
This weekend, new food truck Cafe Arnone will appear at Festa Italiana, which will run Saturday and Sunday at the Cuyahoga Falls River Square district.
The event, featuring music, food, dancing, grape stomping, a bocce tournament, a Zumbathon and more, follows the Italian festival held last weekend in downtown Akron.
The Cuyahoga Falls festival will run from 5 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Cafe Arnone will join a variety of vendors in the Falls River Square pedestrian area.
The food truck launched in June and is owned by Michael Maghes of Copley Township, who also owns Arnone Italian Imports, which imports coffee, tea, olive oil and other specialty items.
The truck is a mobile Italian cafe, offering coffee and espresso drinks, made with fresh ground beans — imported from Italy, natch. Also on the menu are piadina flatbread sandwiches — a street food that looks like an Italian version of a burrito. Available is a traditional piadina with prosciutto ham, stracchino cheese and fresh arugula, and a Caprese version with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil.
For more on the food truck, visit the Cafe Arnone Facebook page. For information on Festa Italiana, go to http://festaitalianacf.com.
Al’s in Barberton
Denny Gray, owner of Al’s Quality Market and Al’s Corner Restaurant in Barberton, reports that while the restaurant has moved to 155 Second St. NW in Barberton, the market is still at its original site at 563 W. Tuscarawas Ave.
Later this summer, the market will join the restaurant on Second Street, moving into separate space in the building. This will put the two operations under one roof. (The restaurant had been down a few doors from the market.) The plan also is to open a catering hall in the larger Second Street site.
Al’s specializes in housemade sausages and Eastern European foods at both the market and the restaurant; the restaurant is a lunch place and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Gray said installation of equipment has delayed the move of the market. The restaurant opened up at the Second Street location last week. Gray has done a significant remodeling, saving a 100-year-old tin tile ceiling.
Ciao to two shops
Pronto Casual Italian has closed after less than a year in business in downtown Akron at 20 E. Exchange St., next to House of Hunan. The restaurant served pizza, pasta, salads and desserts and had filled a space in the privately owned 22 Exchange apartment building that houses University of Akron students.
That Pronto is not related to Pronto! in Macedonia, which also opened last year. Macedonia’s Pronto! is owned by Green Machine food truck owner Scott Wnek, who did his culinary training in Italy. Pronto! in Macedonia is at 223 Highland Road, near State Route 8. Go to http://prontomoderncuisine.com. Call 330-908-1779.
Also closed is the Cuyahoga Falls institution the French Coffee Shop. For several weeks, a sign on the door at 1911 Bailey Road said the place was closed due to a family emergency. Now, that sign is down. The owner could not be reached.
I goofed. I have used the wrong name for the new Wise Guys Lounge & Grill in Akron in earlier items in this column. I have called it a bar and grill. While this may not seem all that important, it can make it difficult to find a listing for the place on the Internet. Searching for Wise Guys Bar will turn up a place in Illinois, for example. Also, Wise Guys seems to be a popular name for pizza joints.
So to set things straight, the name of the new place that opened this spring in the former Anthe’s restaurant at 1008 N. Main St. in Akron’s North Hill restaurant is Wise Guys Lounge & Grill. Call 330-922-3006 or visit the eatery’s Facebook page.