It's a familiar sight that Sam Cipriano wishes he didn't see so often.
"A lot of times, they'll come up to the door all excited," said Cipriano, owner of Guido's of Ravenna. "And then they'll see that we don't offer beer or wine, and they leave."
Guido's once sold bottled beer to go at its previous location on Meridian Street, but hasn't been able to sell beer and wine to customers dining in at its current location on Main Street.
The beverages, Cipriano said, would increase average sales, and tend to go hand in hand with Italian food.
"We've had several customers say they love our restaurant but they'd like to have a glass of wine or a beer with their pizza," he said.
That could change if Ravenna establishes an entertainment district, something city officials say is needed to bring new businesses to the city.
Mayor Joseph Bica said the district is not designed to bring more bars to the city, but to meet the needs of restaurants like Guido's and Mimi's on East Main Street, which are both on the waiting list for liquor licenses.
"When larger venues and eating establishments are asked to come to town, the first thing they ask is 'are there any available liquor licenses within your community,'" he said.
Ravenna, like many cities, is maxed out on the number of licenses. The Ohio Department of Liquor Control limits the number of permits based on a city's population. An entertainment district would allow for more licenses.
A recent change to state law would allow Ravenna to create such a district, based on the fact that it was incorporated before 1860, has a historic downtown district, has a population between 10,000 and 20,000 and is in the same county as a town with a district.
Larger cities, including Kent, have created entertainment districts based on size and the millions of dollars in investment in economic development.
Ravenna City Council expressed interest in holding a work session and inviting representatives from Kent and Green in Summit County to discuss how the districts have affected their communities.
Kerry Macomber, Ravenna's economic development director, said for every five acres in the entertainment district, the city would be entitled to an additional liquor license. But no matter how many acres the district is, restaurants and bars would still be barred from residential neighborhoods by zoning, even if those neighborhoods are part of the district.
She said the entertainment district would help promote development in a "walk-able community."
"I think Ravenna is laid out for that type of thing," she said. "We have a beautiful green in the center of town. If there were more entertainment-type establishments, I think that would make the other uses stronger."
To get more businesses that don't sell alcohol downtown, Ravenna needs more foot traffic, something restaurants can help generate.
"One of the surefire ways to get people to come downtown is to feed them" she said.
Wayne Wiethe, director of planning in Green, said according to his city's population of 26,000, the city was entitled to just 13 liquor licenses. Having an entertainment district allowed up to 15 more businesses selling beer, wine or hard liquor.
"And when you put in a restaurant, you want to be full service," he said.
Green, which is 34 square miles in area, set its entertainment district over a relatively large area of about 900 acres. That, he said, was a "conservative approach" that ensured that businesses could spread out over the Massillon Road corridor.
"We didn't want them to be compacted into a 20 acre area," he said.
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