SAGAMORE HILLS — Business owner Dan Johnson is looking to make a fresh start with a new business he’s started with Dave Patterson.
"It’s a new beginning," Johnson said while sitting in Dilly D’s Sports Grill, located at 9750 Olde Eight Road. "We put a lot of work into this place. It’s got a different look and a different atmosphere."
One of the things they changed were the tables. Originally, the bar was furnished with high top tables and chairs. Patterson and Johnson took out most of those and replaced them with standard tables and booths. "We did that to bring in that restaurant crowd, that family crowd," said Patterson.
To go along with the sports theme Dilly D’s also has, they’ve installed 15 high-def TVs including one on the outdoor patio that seats 36.
Johnson said he sat in this bar when it was called Larry’s Tavern for many years until the idea hit that maybe he could make money there instead of spending it.
"I sat in here for 30 years as a customer and thought, ‘Man, how come I can’t be on the other side of that bar?’"
When the owner, Larry Mills, retired, Johnson and his business partner at that time, Rick Senger, bought the bar, remodeled it, added barbecue and a racing theme and renamed it Pit Stop Bar and Grille.
Now, Johnson and Patterson have remodeled the place again, changed the theme to sports and added a goal to attract families looking for a sit-down restaurant. Their first day open was May 4.
Johnson said he and Patterson put a lot of work into remodeling. Gone are the orange walls that framed Larry’s and the Pit Stop for so many years, he said. Now the walls are Ohio State scarlet and gray. On top of that, a new bar was built with a granite top and the bathrooms were redone.
In addition to all the remodeling, patrons of the previous establishments are going to notice another change: No chips. Dilly D’s has a full menu that includes many sides and appetizers including fresh-cut fries and its signature deep-fried pickle spears, so they decided to take potato chips off the menu.
"There are people who like those shot-and-beer joints and want chips," said Patterson.
"We’re trying to make it more of a restaurant," Johnson add.
"At my previous place, I didn’t do that," Patterson said. "No chips."
Patterson speaks from 30 years of experience running bars and restaurants. "I’ve seen many concepts, but what I really believe in is simple: good food, good service and good atmosphere," he said. "We both like the idea of having a family place where you can bring the kids to eat, yet in the evening, listen to a band, play a game of pool or relax on the patio."
"It’s just a great mix of everything," Patterson said, adding Dilly D’s is available for parties and fundraisers. "We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel here," he said. "We just want to offer good food in a comfortable establishment for the neighborhood."
And while the interior has changed, familiar faces remain. All 10 of Dilly D’s employees previously worked at the Pit Stop, Johnson said.
Dilly D’s menu features baby back ribs, pulled pork, pizza, sandwiches, quesadillas, steak, perch, perogis, salads and "Dillyicious" burgers that include the Dilly Boy with Dilly sauce, the Smokey with pulled pork and bacon, and the Dilly Dang Hot burger with pepper jack cheese and crispy jalapeno chips. For children, they have "Silly Dilly’s" menu.
Johnson said he wants the public to know Dilly D’s wants to play an active role in promoting and supporting the community and the schools.
"I was born and raised here," he said. "I grew up in Nordonia. Played sports all through school. Coached the kids. I’m still playing ball right now." Johnson said his son and twin daughters attend John Carroll University and help out at Dilly D’s in their spare time.
Patterson has two sons, one 24 and the other 15 and a student at Nordonia High School.
Dilly D’s Sports Grill opens at 11:30 a.m. every day including Sunday. The kitchen closes around 10 p.m. each night. The bar is open later. The phone number is 330-467-8869.
Reporter Steve Wiandt, can be reached at 330-541-9420, firstname.lastname@example.org or @SteveWiandt_RPC.