[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
YOUNGSTOWN — The Landmark Restaurant, a popular breakfast and lunch spot in the Mahoning Valley for nearly 20 years, has new owners.
Last week, Youngstown natives Matt Savon and Raphe Neapolitan took ownership of the restaurant at 109 S. Meridian Road.
“I've been going there since I was a little kid,” Savon said. “I found out [about] it being for sale [when I was] there for breakfast and overheard one of the waitresses talking about it. So from there, [I] reached out to the owners, and they were pretty much looking to retire.”
Although The Landmark location in Boardman is still under original ownership, the Youngstown location quietly went up for sale earlier this year. Savon and Neapolitan only recently took ownership, but they initially made plans to purchase the restaurant in early March before the state-mandated shutdown of dine-in restaurants.
“The week before [the COVID-19 pandemic] kind of shut everything down in Ohio, we were set to sign the paperwork and take over,” Savon said. “Obviously, that kind of got derailed. So [the previous owners] were able to keep things together throughout [the COVID-19 pandemic].”
Savon, who has a background in sales, started a coffee shop and owned a bar in Cleveland, and Neapolitan, who is a certified public accountant, also owns Ianazone’s Pizza in Austintown. The duo previously worked together in Cleveland and plan to use their restaurant industry experience to bring fresh concepts to The Landmark Restaurant.
“Where we think there's an opportunity is when it comes to the lunch menu, adding some exciting things like more brunch [options], things that you haven't seen there,” Savon said.
Savon and Neapolitan plan to add some “faster options” to their menu for customers who don't have time for a sit-down breakfast or lunch.
“There's nothing really around here like that. Boardman has it, downtown has it, but on this side of town, [we don’t have] just like a grab-and-go coffee shop where [customers] can maybe grab a breakfast sandwich on the run,” Savon said.
Savon and Neapolitian also plan to bring back The Landmark Restaurant’s bakery.
“The big push I’ve heard from everyone is bringing back the bakery, so that’ll be coming up. It’s just we want to make sure we do it the right way,” Savon said.
Additionally, The Landmark Restaurant will undergo renovations, such as new floors and fresh paint, in the near future.
“Another thing that we're kind of looking forward to, and I think everyone will be pretty excited about, is just updating the cosmetics of the place. So I mean, there'll be some updates there that I think people will be excited about that will be coming pretty soon,” Neapolitan said.
The new owners both emphasized that even though they want to expand the restaurant's menu and revamp the interior, they don’t plan on eliminating any of the restaurant's popular menu items. According to Savon, they have the previous owner’s recipes.
“We heard a lot of people saying, like almost threatening [us], not to change the bacon,” Savon said, chuckling.
“We’re keeping the core breakfast there. I mean, everyone loves it, so there's no need to change anything in that aspect. But the excitement level comes in being able to add new lunch options, new brunch options, bring back the bakery, which everyone's really excited about, and just the aspect of growing,” Neapolitan said.
The community is also sharing Savon and Neapolitan’s excitement for the new changes coming to The Landmark Restaurant. Last week, Savon announced he and Neapolitan would be taking over the restaurant on the Facebook group Mahoning County Take-Out. The post received an overwhelming positive response with over 500 likes and more than 100 comments.
“Overwhelmingly, people have been amazing, like, super appreciative, almost saying, ‘Thank you for keeping this going,’” Savon said.
According to Savon, a large majority of their customers are regulars — many visit the restaurant on a daily basis. He said he understands the restaurant is a part of people's lives and doesn't want to “mess with” that.
“We're taking over someone's place that they've been doing for 20 years. There's going to be a little curve where people might automatically have a negative connotation just because you're new. But that is not the case. They have been super, super receptive and very, very, like very appreciative and complimentary.”
The Landmark Restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
“It’s cool to be able to keep something that's been around, and not to sound cheesy, but like a landmark. And the community has been around for 20 years. It's cool to be able to carry on that tradition and hopefully have it go on for another 20 years,” Savon said.