Wally Waffle is losing its downtown spot because of Akron Children’s Hospital’s expansion project, but it has found a new home in Highland Square.
The restaurant will be the latest business in a city-owned building that also houses Chipotle and the trendy Next clothing store.
Akron City Council on Monday approved legislation leasing the space in the 845 W. Market St. building — formerly occupied by Metro Burger — to Wally Waffle.
“I’m excited about it,” said Adele Roth, the city’s development manager. “It will be a really great fit.”
The move will return a breakfast spot to Highland Square, which has been without one since Dodie’s Cafe closed in 2007.
Josh Miletti, owner of the Akron Wally Waffle, is excited about the new location. He hopes to open by October and extend the hours in the new spot, serving the same fare during the dinner hour.
“Highland Square is a natural home for us,” he said. “We pull a lot of clientele from that area. This is the most exciting place for us to be in all of Akron.”
City officials are still trying to find a new home for the United Vacuum Cleaner Store, 151 W. Exchange St., which also is being displaced by the hospital expansion, which will include a six-story parking deck along Exchange Street.
Roth said she’d also like to find a spot in Highland Square for the specialty shop, which fixes and provides parts for small appliances like vacuums and sewing machines. But she said there isn’t a large enough spot available. The company needs ample storage space for all of its parts.
United Dental Laboratories, 187 W. Exchange St., sold its property to the hospital and plans to relocate to Tallmadge, according to a company employee.
Akron owns the triangular Highland Square property where a grocery store is planned at North Portage Path and West Market Street; the Chipotle building sits to the east and parking lies in the rear.
Akron is still awaiting word about whether the city will receive a $3.8 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help build the grocery store.
Laura Feldman, a HUD spokeswoman, said a decision on the loan is expected soon.
Roth said plans have been drawn up for the store and will be submitted in two weeks to the Urban Design and Fine Arts Commission. She is hoping ground will be broken for the grocery store either this summer or early fall.
The new store will be a Mustard Seed Market, run by Phillip and Margaret Nabors, who own stores in Bath Township and Solon.
‘Record of success’
Councilman Jeff Fusco said Wally Waffle has a “record of success” in the Akron area.
Wally Waffle started in 1975 in Wallhaven in West Akron, a location that was closed because of problems with the building.
Justin Miletti, Josh’s brother, runs a Wally Waffle at 750 Darrow Road in Tallmadge. The brothers are the grandsons of the original owner.
Wally Waffle has been at its 338 Locust St. spot since 2003 and has been leasing it on a month-to-month basis. The restaurant employs 17 people and plans to hire six more to serve the longer hours at the Highland Square spot.
The lease for the 2,340-square- foot space will be for five years, with an option for an additional five years. The company will pay about $21.55 per square foot a month, which Roth said is comparable to other leases in the area. This will equate to $3,300 to $5,000 a month, with the amount increasing over the five years, Roth said.
The Highland Square space will be a bit smaller than the Locust Street location, with the restaurant losing about 10 seats but gaining a patio.
“Overall, it’s a much better layout,” Josh Miletti said. “I’m very excited for myself personally to be able to manage in more efficient quarters.”
Miletti said he plans to knock down a few walls to open up the space, but overall not many improvements will be needed. He hopes there will be just a gap of a few days between the closing of the old location and the opening at the new location.
Miletti said he polled 26 tables of regular customers at the Locust Street restaurant and all said they’d prefer the Highland Square location.
“We hope to pick up new clientele,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great fit.”
In other business, council accepted a federal grant that will provide Akron with $1.5 million to hire 12 police officers who are military veterans. The grant provides 75 percent funding for entry-level salaries and benefits for three years, with Akron required to pay 25 percent.
Mayor Don Plusquellic told council members during the Public Safety Committee meeting Monday afternoon that the city hopes to hire at least 30 more officers — on top of the 12 — to bolster the 418-officer force. He said he will soon announce the number of officers to be hired, when the training class will start and other details.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3750 or email@example.com.