When Bearden's closed last year due to road construction, the Rocky River restaurant's future was uncertain. But with new owner Jim Griffiths joining longtime owner Joe Orange, an overhaul began in June that preserved yet updated what customers have come here for since 1948.
1. Logomotive: Co-owner Joe Orange isn't sure how many trains Bearden's has gone through, but he always had five or six engines, prone to breakdowns, either ready to chug or in the repair shop. "It was a maintenance nightmare for a long time," he says. The new G-scale train, with a Bearden's logo on the boxcar, is larger and constructed better for longevity.
2. Photo Op: Designer Holly Fowler says the old pictures, collected from owner Joe Orange and past owner Margaret Pryor, add to the '50s diner feel. That's Pryor on the right in the dining area's first pic.
3. Over the Counter: A new counter, built by Ian and John Haggerty of Haggerty Ltd., takes the place of a server station to bring people closer to the kitchen action. Above it, designers Holly Fowler and Sherri Reilly hung " '70s glam" lights they found in LA.
4. High Chairs: The booths are original '50s booths that were re-covered, repainted and raised up to meet the high windows. "It felt like a cave when you couldn't see outside the windows," says majority owner Jim Griffiths. A new skylight also brightens the space, and Fowler adds that the aqua and sand colors throughout give a '60s surf vibe.
5. Bear Plug: The bear-shaped mustard and ketchup bottles are back and now available for purchase with items such as conductor hats, train whistles, shirts and can cozies.
Well Done: During the first three weeks after reopening, Bearden's sold more than 10,000 burgers and 2,000 orders of onion rings, says manager Parke Whinery. On Saturdays, a cook arrives at 4 a.m. to hand cut the day's onions. The new ones are outselling french fries. Also popular on the new menu are fried clams, a special back when the restaurant was called Jackson's.