Revitalization district restaurant gets first of 15 new licenses

Patrons of The Original Pizza Place in Marietta can now have a cold brew with their meal as the restaurant has received the first of 15 new liquor licenses that became available through the formation of a city revitalization district late last year.

“We’ve basically had the liquor permit for just over a week, and started serving bottled beer in the past week,” said Kasandra Ruscitto, manager of The Original Pizza Place on Second Street.

She said the restaurant has no plans at this time to serve draft beer, but wine will soon be available.

“We want customers to feel comfortable bringing their families here, so we definitely don’t want to turn this into a bar,” Ruscitto said. “But some people do enjoy a drink with their dinner, so now we can offer beer or wine with meals, including a gluten-free beer that goes well with our gluten-free pizza.”

In November 2013, by a 5-2 vote, Marietta City Council approved the designation of a 110-acre revitalization district that includes all of the downtown business area as well as a portion of the Harmar district. The move opened the door for 15 new liquor licenses that could be obtained by restaurants within the designated district doing at least 75 percent of their business in food sales.

The revitalization district program is provided through the state in an effort to help improve economic development for smaller Ohio cities.

“We’re really thankful that the city council passed legislation creating the revitalization district,” Ruscitto said. “We wouldn’t be able to offer this without it. And our customers have been asking us to serve beer or wine for some time now.”

The Original Pizza Place opened its Marietta store in the spring of 2013.

Marietta Main Street was a big supporter of establishing the revitalization district.

“The Original Pizza Place permit is the beginning of those additional 15 liquor licenses that have become available to help with the revitalization of our downtown area. And many people like to have an adult drink with their meals,” said Jean Farmer, executive director of Marietta Main Street.

She said there will likely be other eateries interested in obtaining one of the new liquor permits, and it’s hoped the availability of the additional liquor licenses will encourage the opening of more restaurants in the downtown area.

“One of the priorities for establishing the revitalization district was to bring more people downtown and generate interest for more businesses to locate here,” Farmer said.

In relation to the liquor license, Ruscitto said there are plans to expand the restaurant’s facilities this year to encourage more people to have meals inside the establishment as beer and wine is only available for dine-in patrons.

“We think the revitalization district will bring more traffic to support Marietta’s downtown economy, and we encourage other businesses to become part of it,” she said.