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HoneyBaked Ham and Café Owner Steve Schwartz is planning to build a new plaza to house his store and provide it with greater visibility.
The plaza would be a three-unit, 10,100-square-foot building next to the future home of The Happy Moose (formerly Eat 'N Park) on Route 14.
The Streetsboro Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended site plan approval of the proposed building April 8, pending administrative review by Planning Director John Cieszkowski Jr.
Planning and Zoning Commission member Jason Winkler asked whether the landscaping would "match what's at the Eat 'N Park parcel today."
Cieszkowski said the landscaping proposal "more than meets the intent of the code."
Schwartz said the cost of the building and land would total about $2 million.
"That's a lot of ham," he said. "We need a good Easter. Next week better be very busy."
He said he's planning the move and building to maximize visibility of his store, which has been a challenge at his Liberty Corner Plaza location at the corner of Market Square Drive and Route 43.
"It's something I had to do," he said. "Even though sales have been growing year over year, with all my involvement and all the networking I do, there are still so many people I approach on a daily basis who do not know I'm here. I need the visibility to survive."
Building his own plaza also gives Schwartz the opportunity to custom design the space for HoneyBaked Ham & Café.
"The layout will be much different on the interior," he said. "I'll more than double my capacity for seating."
Lack of seating is a key shortcoming of his current location, he explained. There are just a few tables, which doesn't lend itself to diners staying for their meals, he said.
Schwartz also is planning a conference room, adjacent to the main dining room.
Another small but important change is the layout of the freezer, from which he sells side dishes and desserts. In his current store, that freezer is located on a side wall, but in the new building it would be facing customers as they enter the store.
The back of the store will include additional office space and a larger glazing area, he said.
Schwartz said he hopes to break ground by the end of April and move in next January, although he said he needs to lease one of the other units before breaking ground.
"For me to move in during the holiday time won't work," he said.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens