Butcher shop and deli eyed in downtown Cuyahoga Falls

City, business would each provide $100,000 in funding for Front Street venture

Cuyahoga Falls City Hall

CUYAHOGA FALLS — A butcher shop and delicatessen is looking to open along Front Street later this year.

Council voted unanimously July 13 to enter into a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant economic development agreement with the Farmer’s Rail, LLC.

The Farmer’s Rail, Artisanal Meats & Butcher Shop has a location in Bath Township and is now looking to open a second site in the former Levinson’s building on Front Street across the street from the Workz, the former Falls Theater site.

“This partnership that we are forming with the Farmer’s Rail is going to create that additional wow factor for our downtown,” said Community Development Director Diana Colavecchio to council at its July 6 meeting. “…This is really going to set us apart from other area downtowns.”

The Farmer’s Rail is owned by Jeff and Melanie Brunty. According to its website, The Farmer’s Rail offers pasture raised poultry, pork, beef and lamb from local farms; sustainably raised and wild caught seafood; small batch grocery items from local vendors; hand selected artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, and specialty grocery; and all-natural deli meats and cheeses.

“We sell a little bit of everything,” said Melanie Brunty.

Colavecchio said city officials approached The Farmer’s Rail ownership about setting up a business on Front Street.

Melanie Brunty said she and Jeff liked what they saw after visiting downtown.

“After being down on Front Street, I think we left just feeling totally invigorated and excited, just knowing that this would be an awesome addition to the growing community,” said Brunty.

Brunty said she and Jeff envision the Cuyahoga Falls site being a butcher shop and delicatessen and are hoping to open in early winter of this year.

“We have plans for seating inside, really pushing that deli seating with house meats, lunch meats and just awesome stuff that you would find on the farm,” said Brunty. “[We will have] home-cooked sandwiches, really pushing that lunch crowd. … We have a really strong belief that that’s going to be a great fit for down there.”

Jeff Brunty said they are working with an architect on drawings and have hired a general contractor.

Peggy Szalay, the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Entitlement Administrator, said that The Farmer’s Rail requested a $100,000 matching grant for the purchase of equipment.

“This means The Farmer’s Rail will spend a total of $200,000 on equipment and supplies for the store and will receive a 50% reimbursement up to 100,000,” stated Szalay.

The city would give $100,000 in CDBG money, which would be used as reimbursement to The Farmer’s Rail.

Szalay explained the CDBG funding is intended to encourage the “creation and retention” of permanent full-time jobs. Under the grant program, she noted The Farmer’s Rail is required to create “one full-time position for every $35,000 of funding requested,” which means the business must create three full-time permanent jobs. The Farmer’s Rail has pledged to create 12 full-time jobs, equating to about $500,000 in annual payroll, and additional positions as the business grows.

Szalay also said the jobs being created would have to be made available to low to moderate-income persons.

Noting that The Farmer’s Rail has 35 employees at its other location, Szalay said city officials hope the butcher shop eventually employs a similar number in Cuyahoga Falls.

Melanie Brunty said she also hopes the business can create more than the 12 jobs it has committed to providing.

Council member Meika Marie Penta (Ward 3) said she felt The Farmer’s Rail will provide “more [dining and shopping] options” for people who live and work in around downtown.

“I love the employment growth projection,” said Penta. “… I think it’s going to be wonderful for us.”

Council member Russ Balthis (At Large) said the shop in Bath is “beautiful,” and added he is “very excited” about The Farmer’s Rail coming to Cuyahoga Falls. He noted he will be able to walk to the store/deli from his residence.

“Welcome to the neighborhood,” said Balthis. “You’re going to be a great addition to downtown.”

Jeff Brunty thanked the city’s community development department for offering the opportunity to bring the business to Cuyahoga Falls.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.