STEUBENVILLE - After less than four years in business and just 18 months after moving into their current location, Nino and Dawn Scaffidi have ticked another box on their "to do" list.
The couple, owners of Scaffidi's Pasta in the Hollywood Plaza, have renovated the bar and lounge so they can offer live entertainment while serving up a full line of domestic and imported beers and a full wine list.
In the very near future, they'll also be offering bar foods.
RENOVATIONS DONE — Enjoying the newly renovated bar and lounge at Scaffidi’s Pasta in Steubenville are, from left, head bartender Larry Petrella, staff members Jessica Flanagan, Lanie Pulice and Audrey McKinney and owners Dawn and Nino Scaffidi. -- Linda Harris
"The bar itself was totally renovated, to give it a more modern look," Nino said. "We added murals, mood lighting, four flat screen TVs, and now we have a room dedicated to entertainment, live performers, that can accommodate a variety of (acts) ... including comedians, jazz musicians and even impersonators."
It's got the kind of big-city vibe now that should appeal to a grown-up crowd, he said.
"We thought by adding an entertainment section, a more modern-looking bar, we'd expand our clientele," Nino said. "There aren't a lot of places where a more mature crowd can go and see live entertainment. We're open to everybody, but we tend to get a business/professional crowd."
Not bad for a couple of restaurant newbies: He had majored in psychology at the University of Akron and logged 15 years of management experience in various industries from corrections to food distribution before opening the restaurant; she has a degree in business management from the Bradford School, with 10 years of experience in retail.
When they opened their original location, in a small house on Sunset Boulevard, "It was definitely a leap of faith, a labor of love," he said.
"We've put our heart into doing this," he said. "It's definitely a difficult business to be in. But ... it was always our passion to get into the restaurant business. We decided to start out small and grow our business, and we've been successful doing it."
Against all odds the business took off. Within a couple of years the restaurant was bursting at the seams.
"We needed parking, and we needed to expand so we could have more sit-down seating," Dawn said.
The restaurant currently seats about 130, and can seat anywhere from 30-40 people in each of its three private party rooms. The private rooms can be reconfigured into one big room that can hold 90 people, she said.
The new bar "lends itself to the restaurant and to the new entertainment area," Nino said. "And we have ample parking, the lot is well lit. It's definitely an improvement, a dream come true."
The secret, he said, "is that we don't stray too far from our roots."
"We put out a good product, first and foremost, with good service in a comfortable, clean environment. And we still make everything homemade - we have our 'pasta window,' where our customers can see Grandma or my aunt making pasta. Every night we're open we always have someone there making pasta."
Having family nearby and involved in Scaffidi's operation "makes the business easier, more fulfilling," he said.
"It's a lifestyle, it's 24 hours a day," he said. "It's from the moment we wake up until we go to bed. You've got to love it because if you don't, it would be a burden. We love doing it, it's a passion of ours. We're here most of the day - one of us is always here, basically. We just don't get tired of it. It's exciting, it's a challenge, and ultimately it's a blessing."
The lounge follows regular bar hours, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Last call is around 2:15 a.m. You can find out more about Scaffidi's at www.scaffidipasta.com. Information also is available via Facebook and Twitter, or by calling (740) 314-5233.
"We love this community and we want to raise our family here," Nino said. "We just felt like this was a good opportunity for us in a great location. This is a great community, it's got great people and there's a lot of opportunity here. You can grow a business here."