The Brick House: Pizza, burgers and a local vibe

Mar 5, 2024 | Business | 0 comments

Oak Harbor Rotary board member, Tom Spangler, right, hand-delivered a thank you to Lori Kokinda at the Brick House for the restaurant’s support. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)


Lori Kokinda pours a drink at the Brick House, which won seven Beacon Best of the Best awards last year. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Last year, the Brick House emerged from The Beacon’s Best of the Best competition with seven awards. Its distinction as a local favorite business developed organically out of its unique mission: the tourist town restaurant focuses on serving the local community.

“It’s important to cater to the locals,” said Brick House co-owner Lori Kokinda. “We love our tourists, but it’s important to have a good local vibe.”

The Brick House, which is popular for its pizza, burgers and full bar, is co-owned with Lori by other Port Clinton natives Rich Kokinda, Brian Celek, Todd Warnicke and Rick Milazzo. The group grew up together, attending Immaculate Conception School and graduating from Port Clinton High School. They opened the Brick House as a way to give back to the community that gave them so much growing up.

“The Brick House was built on a foundation of friendship,” Lori said.

The owners built on that foundation to create a local hotspot that was worthy of seven Best of the Best awards. Lori said the restaurant’s success comes from a commitment to quality and consistency, as well as an exceptional team of employees.

“We were so humbled to win so many awards,” she said. “It’s about being engaged in your business and being engaged in what your customers want. We have a great team doing that.”

The Brick House is open seven days a week, all year long. Not only does that give local residents a place to enjoy dinner and drinks in the offseason, but it also provides year-round employment for the restaurant’s staff. That meets a vital need in a tourist community.

“Being open all year also helps with consistency and quality. That was one of our goals when we opened,” Lori said.

Lori Kokinda, right, is grateful for a competent and engaged staff that helps the Brick House maintain quality and consistency all year long. With her are, from left, Server Julian Quiggle, Bar Manager Martene Parks and Kitchen Shift Manager Laura Pastor. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

The Brick House’s commitment to local residents isn’t confined to the restaurant. The owners are actively engaged in supporting the community, from providing sports team dinners to donating to worthy causes. On Feb. 27, Oak Harbor Rotary board member, Tom Spangler, stopped by the Brick House to hand deliver a thank you for the Brick House’s support.

“We like to participate and donate to our community,” Rich said.

Supporting an Oak Harbor organization fits well with the Brick House’s mission.

“We have a lot of customers who come over from Oak Harbor,” Lori said. “It’s not just about Port Clinton. It’s all of Ottawa County.”

Opening a restaurant was a natural progression for the Kokindas, who also own Rich’s Drive Thru. Lori and Rich’s parents founded the business in the 1970s, and today it is owned by Lori; Rich; Rich’s wife, Dianne Kokinda; and Kim and Dale Trent. Kim is Lori and Rich’s sister.

Rich’s Drive Thru is a unique local deli that serves hot and cold foods made from scratch from family recipes, including a variety of deli salads, sandwich spread and fried chicken.

“Everything is made from family recipes from my mother, my brother and me,” Lori said. “We brine and bread the chicken here. We boil the potatoes and chop the potatoes. We’re truly a homemade deli.”

Decades of success have given the Kokindas the experience to create businesses that locals love. Lori said she doesn’t have big changes planned for the Brick House this year.

“We continue to evolve the menu, and we have some things decked up for summer, but we’ll just continue to be consistent, serve quality food, and provide a place for locals to come and enjoy themselves,” she said.

The Brick House is at 111 Madison St. in Port Clinton, and Rich’s Drive Thru is at 835 W. Fremont Rd. in Port Clinton.

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July 2024

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