On The Menu
By Guy D’Astolfo
Mineral Ridge no longer has a post office, but it will soon have a pub worth writing home about.
The Post Office Pub will open June 10 on the site of the former Mineral Ridge Post Office branch on state Route 46.
The building that once housed the branch – which closed in 2011 – was purchased in 2018 by Aaron Wallace, Jim Hulett and Jason Sylak with the goal of turning it into the comfortable and family-friendly restaurant that they say the village has always lacked.
The trio, all Mineral Ridge residents, bought the building and the vacant land immediately north of it for $140,000 and then spent more than $200,000 on the renovation.
The result is something that will turn the heads of anyone passing by on the busy highway that cuts through town.
The Post Office Pub’s décor is informal but sharp. It features a spacious dining room with booths, tables and hightops. A wall of picture windows lines the front, with a 12-stool bar off to one side. A large covered deck is at the rear with a garage door that opens onto it from the dining room.
The pub’s postage stamp-inspired logo, designed by Sylak’s wife, Heather, is painted on each table.
The owners worked with the town’s historical society to decorate the walls. Enlarged photos from the village’s past are mounted in several places.
Koch Construction was general contractor, and Rob Reilly, another Mineral Ridge native, was foreman.
Opening a restaurant in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic wasn’t part of the owners’ plan, but it’s not going to stop them.
“We broke ground in January, and our timeline back then was to open on June 1,” Sylak said.
The restaurant could have opened that day but some slight delays caused by the pandemic, such as inspectors prohibited from coming to the site, pushed it back.
“We were one of the first places in the state to do a virtual inspection with liquor officials,” Wallace said. “We did it via Facetime.”
The new pub just missed being affected by the statewide shutdown orders. Gov. Mike DeWine allowed restaurants to reopen their patios on May 15, and their dining rooms and bars on May 21.
Social distancing measures will have a slight effect on capacity. The 2,460 square-foot dining room can seat 93, but only 81 under the new regulations. The 600 square-foot patio can seat 81, but bas been cut down to 42.
The three owners are already successful businessmen.
Wallace, who is a native of New Philadelphia, owns Marketing Activations Group, a sports marketing agency that specializes in sponsorship negotiations, live events and consumer engagement. His firm represents companies such as Cooper Tire, Pepsi, Gatorade, Wrangler and Caterpillar. It also is the operations manager for the men’s NCAA basketball Final Four Fan Fest and Turner Broadcasting.
Wallace is a former Mineral Ridge school board member.
Hulett and Sylak, who both grew up in Mineral Ridge, are the co-owners of JJLS Landscaping and also American Lawn Sprinklers.
“Between sports and everything with our kids, we were always asking, ‘where are we going to go eat?,’” Wallace said. “There was nothing local, so we had to go to Austintown or Niles.”
The pub’s menu will include a variety of sandwiches, which start at $8.50, and entrees in the $12 to $15 range.
“It’s not bar food,” Hulett said. “It’s a little nicer than that.”
The owners had to build a kitchen, and bought all-new equipment for it. The kitchen is led by head chef Caitlin Emch, a graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania culinary program who formerly worked at Leo’s Ristorante, and in the Florida Keys.
Emch describes the menu as Americana – affordable family dinners with Italian, Irish and Greek influences.
Almost all ingredients will be fresh, Emch said, adding that she will order from local food producers as much as possible.
Amanda Piatt, the general manager, said the pub will have 20 to 25 employees.
The owners will add televisions to the patio, and expect to add live entertainment at some point in the future. But for now, they will focus on getting the new restaurant off the ground.
They foresee it attracting patrons from the village and throughout the Mahoning Valley.
“Mineral Ridge is a unique place,” Sylak said. “It’s in the center of the entire Valley, and is not too far away for anyone.”
PHOTO: The postage stamp logo welcomes visitors to the new Post Office Pub.
Posted May 26, 2020.
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