Now open: Restaurant raises hopes of new life at empty Springfield space

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Officials are hoping a new business that is now open can bring signs of life along a vacant strip of retail on West First Street.

Ohio Village Restaurant recently opened to the public at 1805 W. First Street.

Vilchis said he wants to bring a fresher approach to the Springfield dining scene.

“I’ve tried most of the stuff around here,” he said. “And the chain (restaurants) — it’s like everything’s processed.”

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Vilchis said all food at his restaurant will be homemade — down to the bread. The food will come direct from local farms, and the menu will feature a “little bit of everything.”

Vilchis has worked in the restaurant business for more than 15 years, but this will be his first experience owning and managing a restaurant.

He said he’s been working on the planning for more than two years.

Vilchis encourages the community to “give us a try,” he said. “Give us a chance to succeed with the business.”

Ohio Village will take the place of the former “Bay Breeze” seafood restaurant. The space also held a Ryan’s Family Steak House.

The building stands between two other empty spaces — the former Lone Star Steakhouse and Tumbleweed restaurants.

A vacant Target store sits at the end of the street. It closed in 2016 despite an online petition attempt by 2,100 area residents.

City officials said they haven’t had an inquiries about the empty side of West First Street for a couple of years.

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Bryan Heck, Springfield’s deputy city manager, said the causes of the empty spaces include restaurant chains not performing well on the national scale, not necessarily specific problems with the Springfield market.

He said businesses on West First Street do face challenges of accessibility and visibility — especially in close proximity to a main thoroughfare.

“It’s a dead-end street, so you’re going down there specifically for a destination,” he said. “If you don’t know that stuff is down there, you’re not going to see it as prominently as if you go out onto Bechtle.”

But Heck said he is hopeful for the future of development on West First Street.

“We’re definitely excited about the new restaurant going in,” he said. “We believe that could be a very viable commercial corridor.”

On the opposite side of West First Street, Applebee’s, Bob Evans and Red Lobster are still in business. Heck said the issue of visibility could possibly be overcome by research on the impact of increased signage.

“We believe there’s a good base there of anchor tenants,” he said. “We just need to continue to find ways to help with the visibility and accessibility of that area.”

The combined land and building valuation of the former Bay Breeze property was appraised at nearly $848,000 in 2017 by the Clark County Auditor’s Office, compared to a 2016 appraisal of $550,000. The last sale of the property was in April 2017 to CS&H Holdings, LLC.

Vilchis said he hopes his gamble on his new venture and the location will pay off.

“Sometimes you have to take the risk,” he said. “If (we) don’t do it, we’ll never know.”

Vilchis said he’s had to change the color of the outside of the restaurant and is considering putting a patio in the back. Ohio Village has the capacity to seat up to 435 people.

The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hours will be Tuesday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The restaurant is currently hiring for server and host positions.

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