Cielo Grande logo, designed by Davenport Sign and Art of Port Clinton
This year has started on the upswing for Port Clinton. New businesses are moving into the downtown and people are starting to stop and take notice of Port Clinton.
“In the past three or four months we have definitely had more interest from business owners wanting to move into the store fronts,” said program manager of Main Street Port Clinton and president of the Port Clinton Chamber Laura Schlachter.
Schlachter also said that already established businesses in Port Clinton are relocating to the downtown and some are also expanding to reap the benefits of the location. Lilly & Gert’s is expanding and moving to West Second Street across from the Post Office. Dr. Francis of Erie Shores Chiropractic is relocating to Madison Street and On Point Wellness is moving into where Pin-Ups hair salon used to be.
“There are so many positive things happening downtown,” said Schlachter.
This fall there will be renovations on Second Street between Adams and Monroe. Sidewalks and curbs will be redone and street renovations will take place. There will also be a separation of the sewer system. All of these renovations are taking place to make the downtown more attractive to foot traffic. The next step after Second Street improvements is to go after grant money to redo and renovate Madison Street.
One of the biggest developments on the downtown business front is that Bill Van Der Giessen, owner of 1812 Food & Spirits and Rosie’s Bar and Grill, has bought what used to be Big Sky Saloon. Cielo Grande, the new business going into the space, is going to be a tapas bar. Tapas refers to small plates. Tapas bars began in Spain and Van Der Giessen said they are becoming very popular.
“More people are dining out,” said Van Der Giessen. “They want variety. I want to make that presence in Port Clinton, that way we can all benefit from the business.”
Some familiar faces will be working at Cielo Grande. Alexis Kohlman, Devin Kohlman’s mother and Bill Van Der Giessen’s granddaughter, will be the bar manager and Chris Schaffer, who now works at the 1812, will be the head chef of Cielo Grande. Van Der Giessen said it was Schaffer who brought the idea to him about the tapas menu.
Cielo Grande will have a lower and upper level. The lower level will seat about 70 people and the upper level, when opened, will seat about 100. The upstairs level will be used sparingly until the downstairs is fully functioning. Van Der Giessen said that the upper level will primarily be used for catering, meetings and groups.
Van Der Giessen also plans to eventually take out a window on the second level and make a door for an outdoor patio where customers can enjoy a view of downtown Port Clinton.
“We plan to open the first or second week of April,” said Van Der Giessen. “We won’t want to rush. We want to make sure that everything is in working order when we open the doors.”
Why invest in Port Clinton?
“Opportunity,” said Van Der Giessen. “If I was younger I would invest even more in the downtown. We are on the cusp of something big in Port Clinton.”
Van Der Giessen said that business has been up this year because of the Davis Besse outage workers in town and because of the ice fisherman that have visited the area.
“The 1812 and Rosie’s are the cornerstone of Port Clinton and I invested in these businesses because I felt that needed to be brought back to us in Port Clinton,” said Van Der Giessen.
Why is this happening here now?
“The economy is going upwards,” said Van Der Giessen. “Business owners are gaining more confidence.”
The area in the last few months seems to have had a resurgence of energy and hope that is felt by many. It can’t simply just be the confidence from the economy; could it be something more? Ever since our community felt the well wishes from the world during Devin Kohlman’s illness, there has been hope and positivity in the air in Port Clinton.
“He brought the best out in a lot of people,” said Van Der Giessen of his great-grandson with a smile.
Regardless of the reason, it will be interesting to see how things move forward for Port Clinton.