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In its heyday, the Route 422 strip that ran from Alberini’s in Niles to the Brown Derby in Warren featured the finest restaurants anywhere. But with the recent closing of Alberini’s, Café 422 is the only one of the old-time restaurants left.
Vernon Cesta, whose father cooked at Café 422 and now owns his own restaurant at the top of the strip, Serdar Dede, Café 422’s owner, and Beverly Petrosky, 76, of Niles, who has dined on the Strip since she was six, all offered their opinions.
“It got busy from like 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock, people were still eating dinner,” Cesta said. “Restaurants didn’t close until 2 a.m.”
It was 1929 when the strip’s first restaurant opened. The Belvedere Inn was located near where the Eastwood Mall stands today.
By the 1970’s, Alberini’s was next to the Holiday Inn, the Howard Johnson’s had a cocktail lounge, and how about the Aloha?
“Used to be a great strip,” Dede said. “People used to come travel from all over the world.”
But that’s about all you’ll find as far as pictures of the strip’s olden days.
Today it’s just remnants.
There’s now a Rite Aid where the Brown Derby once stood, the portico at Jimmy Cheffo’s remains, but it’s now a Japanese restaurant, as is the old Flamingo.
The building that housed the El Rio remains vacant, and where the Living Room once stood there’s now a Hair Depot Plus.
Remember Cherry’s Top of the Mall? The VIP? It’s now a TJ Max. And how sad is it that Alberini’s is gone?
“People died,” Cesta said. “Kids didn’t’ want to take them back over. It’s a lot of hours in a restaurant.”
Another reason the Strip restaurants may have closed is increased competition from the Route 224 Strip in Boardman. Until the early 1980’s alcohol sales in Boardman was prohibited.
“And we lost a generation of diners also,” Dede said. “A lot of the younger people that used to be in the steel mills and everything else, that were guaranteed kind of jobs, they got educated and they went elsewhere.”
And then there’s Café 422, the last of the old-time restaurants. Pictures on the wall recall the past but its owner is looking to the future.
“We made a lot of changes to Café 422, including a new patio, new furniture, updating our new bar, new lounge area, and make some changes to the menu, bringing it where it needs to be,” Dede said.
The 422 Strip is still the center of Trumbull County’s commercial activity. And it still has restaurants, most of which are chains.
The days of the family owned, elegant, gourmet style restaurants are gone. And Petrosky is disappointed.
“Yes I am,” Petrosky said. “Very much.”