BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
Red’s Summerhouse & Bar is not your typical restaurant, and not in a typical location around eastern Ottawa County. Located on the Sandusky Bay side of the Marblehead Peninsula — the quiet side — Andy and Gina Redinger decided to renovate an existing building to make it bright and airy with wide roll-up windows, a spacious bar and second story, and seating for 175 diners.
The menu is surprisingly small, helping to ensure everything on it is delicious. On a first visit my wife, an island girl and former charter captain, rated the yellow perch dinner to be very good. The salmon was outstanding. Main courses heading out of the kitchen were visually attractive, from steak and potatoes to roasted chicken and shrimp pasta. The sandwich selection was modest, and the choice of soup was bold.
There was only one, a very rich, flavorful lobster bisque.
Be forewarned. Red’s Summerhouse does not take reservations. Before we could take a seat at the bar, though, on a Sunday afternoon, our cell phone buzzed to tell us a table was waiting.
We could watch the Cleveland Guardians at bat between bites, the music was excellent and the building was designed to absorb nearby conversation. Red’s Summerhouse will continue to tweak the menu, said the Redingers. They have a home in Westlake on Cleveland’s West Side, but have been summertime regulars in Marblehead for three decades.
Andy’s parents had retired to Johnson’s Island a few years ago, and the whole family loves Lake Erie living, boating and visiting the Lake Erie Islands.
“We want to honor the historical memories of the building, which Marblehead folks will remember as O’tay’s Pizzeria, and we’ll also serve pizza at the restaurant,” said Gina. “We still have yet to open our deck, offer meals to go, live music and outdoor lighting.”
When they first considered buying the old building, the couple did know where to get expert advice. They called their good friend Doug Petkovic, a restauranteur and partner with legendary chef, restaurateur and television personality Michael Symon, the owner of Lola’s Bistro and Mabel’s BBQ in Cleveland. Petkovic became the Redinger’s partner, and brought aboard General Manager Kelly Undulation and added corporate chef Joe Fish from Mabel’s BBQ. While opening a brand new restaurant is no easy task, it is obvious that the Redington’s top-flight support has helped them with a smooth arrival to the growing food scene in the area.