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Medina council objects to liquor license for Serenite Restaurant

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    Seville resident Chip Jenkins voices concerns Monday about serving alcohol at Serenite Restaurant. City Council voted 6-1 against transferring the liquor license from the former Medina Steakhouse and Saloon at 538 W. Liberty St. to Serenite.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — Brandon Chrostowski, CEO and founder of Serenite Restaurant & Culinary Institute, said he won’t let Monday’s City Council vote alter his plans to open for business as scheduled Thursday.

Council voted 6-1 against transferring the liquor license from Medina Steakhouse Inc., doing business as Medina Steakhouse & Saloon Porch & Patio, to the new restaurant.

“I’m not too concerned about it,” Chrostowski said of the vote.

He said because the Recovery Center of Medina County has a management agreement in place, they’ll open at 5 p.m. Thursday as planned. That agreement allows him to use the liquor license from Medina Steakhouse for now.

“This is the beginning of a process and we’ll see what happens at our hearing,” Chrostowski said.

No hearing has been set yet with the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.

He said he’d be shocked if he’s denied the license by the commission.

“(Council’s ruling) doesn’t hold much weight,” Chrostowski said. “It’s an objection to the transfer.”

About 10 members of the community stood up at the council meeting to voice their concerns about serving alcohol at the recovery center, and several members of council, along with Mayor Dennis Hanwell, echoed residents’ concerns.

Hanwell said the city never was told the restaurant would serve alcohol.

“I’ve never seen a recovery center that wants to have alcohol on its premises,” he said.

At-large Councilman Bill Lamb said he was shocked when he heard the news about alcohol being served.

“To me, this is inconceivable,” he said. “A lot of us have experience with a 12-step program.”

He added: “It’s not right. It’s fundamentally not right.”

Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson cast the lone vote favoring the transfer. He said it’s important for people going through recovery to have a career.

“Most upscale restaurants that are going to serve French cuisine will serve alcohol,” Simpson said. “Alcohol is legal. Those in recovery, there are not very many places they can go that won’t have alcohol.”

The full-service restaurant at 538 W. Liberty St. will be staffed by individuals in recovery enrolled in an eight-month training program.

They will help prepare a menu of French cuisine under the guidance of Chef Gilbert Brenot.

The restaurant is based on the vision of Chrostowski, founder and CEO of Edwins — a Cleveland-based Leadership & Restaurant Institute that provides life skills and culinary training to formerly incarcerated men and women.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Laura Parnell-Cavey said when she first heard about serving alcohol at the facility, she went to the recovery center to hear it first-hand.

“My gut reaction is this is ludicrous,” Parnell-Cavey said.

Resident Nan Passanante said serving alcohol in a recovery center is “cruel.”

“My loved one is in recovery,” she said. “I thought the culinary training would be wonderful. The recovery center filled a hole.

“It’s important for us to keep this clean.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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