Resurgence in Youngstown

Fri Jun 4, 2021 11:20 AM

New faces, a new optimism invades the village; new operators express their love for Youngstown

By Terry Duffy


A new page is now turning for Youngstown.

After months of battling the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this quaint and picturesque village at the mouth of Lower Niagara is truly starting to come to life with dramatic and exciting events.

From the corner of Main and Hinman streets north to the Main-Lockport intersection is what you might call an exciting advancement for the dormant business district and, in turn, the village economy. . This is especially the case when you consider the ravages of the pandemic, not to mention the struggles many residents of the river region have faced over the past year.

“We have some great new businesses opening up here,” said Youngstown Deputy Mayor Mark Fox.

He’s not kidding.

This commercial renaissance seen on both sides of Main Street includes the Hill of Beans Cafe, which was just opened by village newcomer Lewis Bean at 440 Main Street – site of the Old Fyfe and Drum that fell victim from a fire years ago. Across the street is Everything Youngstown, a pretty potpourri of iconic village clothing and nautical collectibles operated by Sue McNaughton.

On the other side is That Barber, a popular men’s barber shop operated by Rob Jeeves, a Youngstown resident, at 434 Main Street. Next to everything Youngstown at 431 Main Street is the brand new Sister and Brother Children’s Apparel, an iconic business that has moved from the village of Lewiston and is operated by Mark and Lisa Leffler. Opposite the very popular Diner Village run by Cathy Pasquantino and her staff is the new Mangia Cakes at 400 Main. Pastry chef and restaurateur Rebecca Poletti has brought back her famous pastry shop.

Alongside them are Mike Costello and the team at Ontario House, aka The Jug, who have just completed a fantastic makeover of the Backyard Lodge, which draws groups and crowds. In Rite Aid Square, Ken Scibetta and Eddie Webster of Griffin gastropub restaurants advanced on plans for a microbrewery / cafe on the site of the former Market Place supermarket. And across from Jug at Main and Water Streets, developer Rick Lohr revealed to Youngstown Village Council last week his intention to recreate a true Youngstown classic – the Eldorado Hotel.

More good news? No need to look any further than the lower Water Street section of the village, where City Experiences by Hornblower just completed its acquisition of Niagara Jet Adventures from businessman Mike Fox and started a new chapter in the lower section. of the river on May 28. Operating under the umbrella of the Hornblower Group of San Francisco, Niagara Jet Adventures is the latest offering for this global land and sea transportation conglomerate that literally serves the world.

The enthusiasm for the resurgence of Youngstown is certainly shared by many new faces along the main street of the village.

“Our community is seeing so much positive news after such a dark time,” said Cheryl Irish Butera, President of the Youngstown Business and Professional Association. She then named this new resurgence “#YoungstownNYRenaissance”. “Such hope! Kudos to everyone for bringing life back to our place we call home. “

So what do these new faces all have in common? In short, a discovery and a rediscovered love for what this small village has to offer. Considered by some to be “at the end of the road” on the river region’s long list of favorites, many writers this writer has spoken to in recent days have offered a simple reason for being here: They love the quality of life here. Youngstown and the allure of its small village. .

Lewis Bean with Eric at the new Hill of Beans cafe in Youngstown. (Photo by Terry Duffy)


“I’m from the Gulf Coast,” said Lewis Bean of Hill of Beans, a long-time active face in the hospitality industry who hails from the Houston-Galveston area. “I love this neighborhood. Been here a few times before moving here.

Looking at his newly branded cafe and attractive decor derived from the classic film ‘Casa Blanca’, Bean, a classic movie buff, commented, “I’m making the most of where I am. This is my semi-retirement. I’m from Texas, but I’m a citizen of Youngstown, now I can take advantage of it.

Rebecca Poletti’s new Mangia Cakes at 400 Main is open for take-out desserts and custom orders. (Photo by Terry Duffy)


Poletti, a bakery connoisseur and restaurateur in the business since 1982, operated the prepandemic Youngstown Galley. New, the new Mangia Cakes, she said is the last chapter of her life.

“I’m just happy to be up and running again,” Poletti said.

She explained that Mangia Cakes will serve as a take-out offering for the public, focusing on a range of baked goods and desserts. Poletti also supplies items to local businesses such as Hill of Beans nearby, Ray’s Tavern on Lake Road, and Wine on Third in Niagara Falls.

“I don’t make dinners; I had planned paninis on the terrace, but I’m starting to get my feet wet again. I work alone, ”Poletti said.

She works by individual order on her specialty bakery products, in addition to offering take out slices of pie, brownies, cookies and more. “My new model is for take-out only. You can get a slice of pie just like you would get a slice of pizza.

Of Youngstown’s resurgence, she added, “It’s really good. This is going in the right direction. Entrepreneurs are resilient people.

Mark and Lisa Leffler at the new Sister and Brother Children’s Apparel. (Photo by Terry Duffy)


For the Lefflers, opening a business in the village is a dream come true.

“My wife and I were kind of a passion to open a boutique for kids,” Mark said of the new sister and brother.

He said his wife Lisa, a member of the City of Porter’s Valuation Review Board, had befriended the owners of the former Lewiston business and moved it to Youngstown, in emphasizing personalized service.

“She has developed a relationship with the (former) owners. When she finally decided to retire, they chose us over others, ”said Mark. “I can’t give my wife enough credit for the design of this place, the type of clientele we seek and our personal service.”

The couple said they absolutely adore the village. Their store has been open for three weeks and “We were delighted. We have just been pleasantly surprised at the number of people we have had. We have a lot of traffic here; we couldn’t have chosen a better location than Main Street in Youngstown. ”

In a press release, City Experiences said Niagara Jet Adventures represents the latest acquisition of renowned company Hornblower which has operations in over 110 countries, six continents and over 125 US cities including New York, San Francisco, Paris, Rome and London.

This diverse portfolio of major travel destinations around the world aligns more than 25 existing Hornblower brands into a single unified identity, providing locals and tourists with a unique offering of global tourism experiences. The Company’s City Cruisers, Canada division operates Niagara City Cruises in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

“As our portfolio of global experiences continues to expand, we are excited to include the whitewater adventures of Niagara Jets, providing our customers with the best and most unique products possible,” said Mory DiMaurizio, COO of City Cruises, Canada. “This one-of-a-kind offering fits uniquely into our portfolio of offerings and reinforces our continued goal of becoming the global leader in experiences and transportation.

Yes, there is a new feeling in Youngstown. And it’s only just started.

City Experiences by Hornblower welcomes Niagara Jet Adventures of Youngstown to its global network of travel experiences. (Photo of urban experiences)

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About Linda Jennings

Linda Jennings

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