The Winking Lizard Tavern in Fairlawn closed Saturday. But don’t despair, Winking Lizard fans.
It isn’t shut down for good. It’s just relocating down the road.
The Bedford Heights-based chain, known for its extensive craft beer selection and World Tour of Beers promotion, renovated the former Golden Corral restaurant off state Route 18 in Copley Township.
The new site, 79 Springside Drive, opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday and is bigger, offers more draft beers and has more parking than the former location on Ghent Road.
Perhaps the most exciting news for Akron-area craft beer fans is that it also will house a Lizardville Beer Store & Whiskey Bar, a concept that features about 650 bottled beers that people can buy to take home, 10 draft beers and 175 whiskeys.
It’s the first time the privately owned chain will operate a Winking Lizard and Lizardville under the same roof.
“We’re really excited to test this,” partner John Lane said.
The Winking Lizard and Lizardville will be run as separate entities and each will have its own outdoor patio.
Lizardville — part beer store, part bar — is for adults only. It’s strictly age 21 and over, while the Winking Lizard is family friendly.
Even though the businesses are under the same roof, you won’t be able to buy a beer in one place and walk it over to the other to drink it.
“We really are trying to keep the entities as separate as we can to keep the two different atmospheres,” Lane said.
It’s the company’s third Lizardville. The others are in Bedford Heights and Rocky River.
Craft beer drinker Heather Holmes of Akron said she’s especially excited about the new Lizardville.
“First of all, it’s expanding the craft beer scene here in the Akron area,” she said. “And I really enjoy going up to the Bedford Heights location but it’s kind of a far drive.”
The Winking Lizard/Lizardville location employs nearly 100 workers. Lane couldn’t say how much was spent on the renovation, but said it was a “substantial investment.”
There’s nothing special planned for opening day.
“We’re always kind of quiet,” Lane said with a chuckle when contacted Monday by the Beacon Journal. “We just kind of open them up.”
The Winking Lizard, which has locations throughout Northeast Ohio and the Columbus area, has been in major expansion and renovation mode.
The Macedonia restaurant on state Route 82 was closed about a week ago for a major renovation. It’s expected to reopen in about two months with a new patio on the front, kitchen and bathrooms.
The chain also has opened smaller Winking Lizard sites in North Canton and Grandview Heights this year. The North Canton location is in the Washington Square plaza along Easton Street Northwest, near Walsh University.
“It’s going absolutely fantastic,” Lane said.
The chain also will open a new Winks in Beachwood along Chagrin Boulevard this fall.