Today marks the end of an era, as the Ricciardi family, owners of the Venice Café, hand over the keys to the bar the family founded in 1941 on Franklin Avenue.
Beder said the deal has been under consideration for the past two to three years since the family contacted him about the idea of taking over the business.
“I’ve loved that place for a long, long time,” Beder said. “I appreciate that the Ricciardis contacted me about this, and I’m excited to keep the legacy of the Venice going.”
Beder’s interest in the bar spans a decade. The 2000 graduate of Kent State University opened his first business, then called Glory Days, in a small location on North Water Street in 2002, but he knew right away he wanted to find a bigger space.
That desire prompted Beder to slide a letter under the door of the Venice offering to buy the bar if the family ever decided to sell it.
“When Rosario (Ricciardi) contacted me a couple of years ago I brought up that story, and he said ‘Yea we get about three of those a week,’” Beder said.
Beder’s love of the iconic Kent pub means patrons can expect much of the flavor of the bar to remain. Its murals, wooden booths and general atmosphere will stay the same.
Changes customers can look forward to include plans to offer food service from nearby Taco Tonto’s, and Beder plans to introduce a nano-brew operation in cooperation with Tallmadge, OH, based Label Peelers.
“We bought a system for brewing beer in small batches,” Beder said. “It’s a production level right under micro-brewing.”
A redesigned logo for the bar looks more like an old-school beer label, and Beder is toying with the idea of replacing the glass-block windows at the corner of Erie Street and Franklin Avenue with see-through windows.
“It’s a fine line we want to walk between keeping what makes the Venice a neat place and modernizing it so it can compete with all the new stuff that’s popped up recently,” he said.
Beder is hopeful to reopen the bar by the end of August with some of the new changes in place.
As owner of the Venice, Beder will own two of downtown Kent’s popular night spots with ownership in the city’s newest coffee shop. Having such investments was something Beder said he never imagined when he first opened Water Street Tavern.
“It was just a happy accident,” he said.