For several years, the area at East Washington Street and Ravenna Road (Route 44) near the intersection of Route 422 freeway has languished in regards to commercial growth.
But longtime business owner Craig Sirna has plans to change all that with the opening of a new restaurant on Washington Street almost directly opposite his busy Sirna’s Pizzeria.
The Sirnas are no strangers to Auburn. Sirna’s Farm on Ravenna Road just south of the freeway uses its fresh produce at the pizzeria.
Now, the family is working on the new 3,500-square-foot restaurant that will seat about 40 diners on the site that was once a mechanic’s garage. Richard Siegfried of RSA Architects in Chagrin Falls designed the building.
The business was granted a zoning variance for a patio to add more seating and it obtained the last license available for sit-down service for beer and wine sales from the state. “I want to use local craft beers and wines,” Mr. Sirna said. The family has not set a opening date for the new eatery.
Auburn Trustee John Eberly said the Sirna family has been an asset to the community. “I expect them to be the first domino, so to speak,” he said of development kicking off at the corners. “And he’s going to have a captive market.”
One of the most asked-for businesses in surveys of residents is a restaurant, Mr. Eberly said. He has also heard from people who want a bank in the area. And as the housing starts increasing in the township, there will be more desire for such development, he said, and easy access due to the freeway.
“I would like to see the area grow,” Mr. Eberly said of Auburn Corners. The zoning was changed there several years ago to encourage business growth, he said. While the township is not in the real estate business, it can make zoning favorable for development.
Businesses are not new to Mr. Sirna, a retired police officer for 34 years in Bedford Heights. His parents Leo and Beverly Sirna owned and operated a tavern in the city of Bedford for many years. He said he would cook lunch at the bar on his days off.
He and his wife bought their farm and the 150-year-old farm house 20 years ago before it was developed for housing. Their three children, Kaitlyn, Kristen and Anthony, all went to Kenston schools.
The farm is on 43 acres where they raise vegetables, purebred black angus cattle and chickens for eggs. Customers can buy fresh eggs at the pizza shop in the winter and during the summer at the Chagrin Falls Farmers Market and at the farm.
He noted that the previous owners failed at the pizza shop and it was his wife and daughters who convinced him they should buy it.
“We cleaned the whole place up and it has just kept growing,” he said of the business. “My wife is Polish, but she cooks like an Italian.” Their daughter, Kaitlyn, does the marketing and payroll for the business.
The family is searching for a chef for the new eatery to prepare a varied menu using some of the recipes from Mr. Sirna’s father as well as his grandfather’s 100-year-old recipe for homemade Italian sausage. His grandparents were from Longi, Sicily. “And we’re using a barbecue sauce recipe from my dad’s bar.
“It is good being in business and having learned from my dad and mom and sharing their recipes,” he said. Plans also call for having homemade, nitrate-free bacon and gluten-free products at the new eatery. “We use the best of everything we can.”
They even have a pasta machine just purchased from Italy. “My wife makes great lasagna and old Italian recipes,” he said. It will be a farm-to-table restaurant during the growing season.
Mr. Sirna is well-invested in the community employing many students from the Kenston and Crestwood school districts.
“We have such a good rapport and I put tips aside for taking them out to dinner. I believe in treating them right and that’s why no one leaves,” he said. He is donating pizza and shrimp to the after-prom parties.
Right now, Auburn Corners has a bait shop, Auburn Inn, Cleveland Glass and Precision Orthopedics.
The major concern is adequate water and the area needs either a water tower or a storage area for water, Mr. Sirna said. Water wells are not likely to produce enough supplies for the businesses.
“I want this to be a showplace for everybody,” Mr. Sirna said of Auburn Corners. “Everybody is waiting for it, and we want to give back to the community, like we always have.”