The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 15, 2013

Lakefront eatery opens next week in Conneaut

After being vacant for almost two years, this building will be filled with diners

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — The people behind two successful local restaurants are bringing their skills to a new eatery overlooking Conneaut Harbor.

The Breakwall, after a soft opening for family and friends on Monday, will make its official debut on Tuesday, said Mike Morgan, one of the operators. “We’re just about ready to go,” he said Friday.

Morgan, who owns JD’s Pizza, and the braintrust at Briquettes Smokehouse in Ashtabula Harbor are joining forces to run Breakwall in a building owned by the Conneaut Port Authority.

The port panel is counting on the restaurant to bring a lot more people to the city’s waterfront. “We’re already getting a whole lot of positive reaction,” said Joseph Raisian, authority chairman.

Workers are applying the finishing touches to the building, perched at the edge of a marina.

Presently, Breakwall management plans to close for the season after an Oktoberfest and reopen in March, but a longer tenure is possible — depending on demand, Morgan said. The business will employ upwards of 30 people, he said.

Initially, the menu will tap the expertise of the Briquettes staff, including ribs, brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, as well as salads and perch, Morgan said. Later, burgers will be added, he said. Breakwall will also do catering work and host pig roasts, Morgan said.

The operators are very pleased with the building and its scenic location.

“It’s beautiful down there,” Morgan said. “We’ve already reached out to the boaters. There’s nothing but love down there.”

The building, which began as a restaurant but has also served as a marina clubhouse over its lifespan, has been empty for nearly two years. This past spring, the port authority announced it was seeking someone to lease the building for a restaurant purpose. Since then, the agency spent thousands of dollars on restaurant-related upgrades, officials said.

Port authority members are excited about the new arrival and believe it will draw a lot of people to the Port of Conneaut, Raisian said. “(The Breakwall) will enhance the lakefront,” he said.