Fruits

Business bears fruit in Willowick, a primarily residential city – News-Herald

EDITOR’S NOTE: Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce hosted officials from its communities on March 8 to discuss the “State of the Cities.” This is one in a series of articles detailing the speeches that were given.

Many of the business plans laid out for Willowick years ago are starting to bear fruit now, making a mostly residential and condensed city boom with industry.

“In my six years as mayor, I’ve had the great support of council and we’ve gotten a lot of things done,” said Willowick Mayor Richard Regovich at the recent State of the Cities meeting at Normandy Party Center in Wickliffe. “The new building at Shoregate where you see Chipotle, Starbucks is coming and we have a B Smoothie place coming in there all in the next few months.

“This is big for Willowick, (the community) never thought they’d get a Chipotle, Starbucks or anything like that in the past,” he added. “We’re 2.5 square miles and a very condensed city, and pretty much residential and no industries. This is good.”

A Bar Forno location is in store for Willowick’s Northshore Mall, which will be an updated facility where patrons are able to sit down, have a meal and a drink, Regovich said.

“It’s not fast food or a drive-thru,” Regovich said. “Also, in the former site of Sports Fanatics is Pasha Turkish Kitchen. It’s Middle Eastern food and they’re poised to open any time now. They are pretty much done with their buildout and ready.

“We also have Alia Creations Event Center going in at Northshore Mall, Mama Primozz going in where Cala’s Pizza was for many years and we have people expanding their business.”

The former Dawnchem building on Lakeland Boulevard will be ServiceMaster’s headquarters. The 48,000-square-foot building will bring about 50 to 75 jobs to the city, which is huge, Regovich said.

“The building goes straight back toward the railroad tracks down (East 305 Street) and they just submitted plans to do the interior to get their trucks and equipment inside,” Regovich said. “Any time we get that kind of increase in workforce in Willowick is fantastic. I look forward to those tax dollars and I think all of my colleagues might, too.”

What was Walker Hardware on Vine Street will be turned into a restaurant and bar by the Cleveland Pizza Co. The building will also be used for their offices, manufacturing and selling dough to other businesses, as well as their four locations.

“There will be a patio someday with a fireplace. They are having some supply chain issues, which we’ve all heard about,” Regovich said. “They are hopefully going to move forward soon. They have a $1.1 million SBA loan to get this done. Through the pandemic, those loans were easier to get and they were able to do something like this, which is big for Willowick.

“I don’t know what else we could’ve done with that building or how long it would’ve sat.”

The Ace Hardware at Shoregate is expanding due to its increase in business. Also at Shoregate, a Christian bookstore will be going in.

“Ela’s Caribbean Grill on (East 305th Street) opened last year, so if you need Caribbean food, it’s very good,” Regovich said. “A photo and graphics design place, a Flexology foot spa and Immaculate Cleaning opened up in that same plaza. West on Lakeshore where the old convenience store and bank once was years ago, we have a Premier Orthodontics going in — all great things in Willowick.”

The city’s budget has seen a great increase this past year due to extra government funds from the pandemic, but it’s one-time money, Regovich said.

“We can do some things now, but we also think creatively together,” he said. “The budget has never been healthier for Willowick and we’re hoping to leave it as healthy as long as we can. Through the pandemic, it was two years of constant virtual meetings to help make decisions as a county. A lot couldn’t be done without staff at each city and cities helping out each other.

“It’s been a privilege and a good time to serve with all of these mayors.”

Regovich is hoping to see ground broken to provide patrons access to the lake in the coming years.

“Willowick has great living on a Great Lake, but I got to get you to the lake,” said Regovich, who currently has developers interested. “The lake is a big focus for our quality of life in Willowick, as well as Lake County, so we’re looking to get to the lake someday. This was something I was passionate about when I became mayor and still am.”

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