June 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Business Beat: Seville’s Sommer bows out with sale of store

It’s about time for retirement, said Don Sommer, who co-owned LE Sommer and Sons in Seville.

“Don Sommer has been in business a long time and it was a good opportunity for him to retire,” said Al Holdren, president of Town & Country Co-op, an Ashland-based agricultural cooperative. “We thought (his store) was a really good fit into our company. … We have a lot in common and we do a lot of the same things.”

LE Sommer and Sons started in 1907 with a store in Kidron, which Sommer sold in 2002. The Seville store has been in operation for 21 years.

The sale “seemed to be good for our family and for the customers and for the employees,” Sommer said. “We think a lot of Town & Country and think they have a lot to offer the community.”

Monday morning, Sommer, his son, Hugh, and Town & Country officials signed documents making Town & Country the official owner of the store.

The employees who worked for LE Sommer and Sons are now employed by Town & Country, Holdren said.

“The customers will see the same faces that they’ve been seeing,” he said.

Holdren explained his organization will continue to offer many of the products and services LE Sommer did, including selling feed and fertilizer and receiving grain from farmers.

Sommer “seems to have a group of very loyal customers that were earned by his very dependable service over the years, and we plan to do everything we can to continue that service,” said Brian Cadnum, chairman of Town & Country’s board.

He explained service at the store will be taking a step ahead, using GPS technology to monitor the application of agricultural materials at farms.

The purchase of LE Sommer comes just more than two weeks after the closing of Town & Country’s store and fueling station on State Road in Medina. The location was sold to Free Enterprises Inc. of Medina

It’s “strictly coincidence,” Holdren said, “although we certainly had an interest in maintaining an agricultural presence in Medina County.”

Since closing the State Road store Nov. 16, the company has concentrated on building up services and products offered at its store on state Route 3 in Montville Township, TLC Feedstuffs. The products left over from the Medina store were transferred to TLC.

“We’re having a discussion at this point about expanding that facility and adding floor space,” Holdren said.

The TLC and Seville stores, however, are concentrating on the business’s agricultural offerings and not its fuel services. Town & Country’s unattended fueling site on Smith Road in Medina remains open.

Town & Country, however, still owns Medina County’s only E85 fueling station, which was formerly at the State Road location. The pumps were removed and won’t be moved to any of their other fueling stations, Holdren said.

James Patneau Jr., president of Free Enterprises, explained the State Road fueling site has been temporarily shut down.

“We will offer some kind of fuel at that location. I don’t know what it would be,” Patneau said. “So far, E85 has been a loser.”

He explained the fuel does not sell as well as conventional fuel because of its high cost and inefficiency. E85, an ethanol-based alternative fuel, Patneau said, is 30 percent less efficient than conventional gasoline.

Cadnum said if Free Enterprises decides to offer E85, Town & Country would support it by selling the firm ethanol.

Catan’s closing
It’s going to be a matter of beating the clock for Pat Catan’s, as the store’s lease on its Medina location is running out and will not be renewed.

Craig Catan, of the arts and crafts chain, said he hopes to have a new store in the area before the lease is up. But right now, he said, it does not look like that will happen.

Catan said the landlord of Pat Catan’s Medina store at 945 N. Court St. did not renew the store’s lease because he “is doing something different with the space we’re currently in.”

He said the lease will be running out in the coming months.

“We’re trying to get some extensions, so I don’t think we’ve set up a drop-dead date,” he said.

“We’re currently in pursuit of a better location because we feel strongly about the Medina market,” said Catan, who explained he has looked at such locations as the construction projects on the state Route 18 Buehler’s property in Medina Township. “We feel strongly about Route 18 from, like, (Interstate) 71 west.”

In the meantime, he said, he’s going to urge customers to visit the store’s closest locations in Strongsville and Wooster. The store’s employees will be offered positions at those stores and, once the new store is opened, will be re-employed there.

Madd Chef
Patrons now have two choices when walking through the doors of Chef Richard Cicic’s Madd Chef restaurant on Pearl Road in Brunswick.

At the Madd Chef Café, which has been in operation since October 2006, restaurantgoers can opt for a more casual experience, with offerings of soups, salads and sandwiches. Since last week, however, customers can opt for a more fine-dining experience in Madd Chef’s Bistro.

“The bistro is everything served in courses, kind of like everything used to be back in the day,” Cicic said.

Cicic recently doubled the size of his restaurant, adding 1,400 square feet of dining space. He said he wanted to combine “comfort and dining” by utilizing fine, white china and white tablecloths.

“It’s kind of like something you would find downtown,” he said. “That’s one of the things Brunswick didn’t have.”

The bistro will keep Cicic’s “clean food” philosophy alive. He explained the chemically engineered food trend of recent decades has “just kind of led to an epidemic of obesity in the country.”

So he is taking “food back to where it used to be” by not using chemically processed foods and choosing more natural, local options.

“What we’re trying to do is use all local food,” he said.

This is a philosophy Cicic said he hopes to apply to all phases of his restaurant.

So far, with the café and the bistro, he has completed the first two portions of his plans as a restaurateur. The third and final project will be opening a European coffeehouse, serving ground-to-order coffee. Cicic said when he begins working on that phase, he will move the café over one store and put the coffeehouse between the two restaurants.