Now entering its 12th year in business, Bistro on Main in Kent continues to welcome an ever growing dining clientele by offering moderately priced, excellent cuisine in an metropolitan American bistro setting.
The emphasis is on innovative, delicious food made from scratch with nothing boxed or canned and fine beverages served in a comfortable, semi casual atmosphere.
"We keep it simple with a twist. That's what a bistro is supposed to be," Owner/Executive Chef Aaron Ruggles said. "Some believe good cooking requires a multitude of ingredients. We focus on quality and select five or six outstanding ingredients. Everything we start with each day is fresh. Nothing comes out of a box."
Ruggles and his head chef, Chuck Crawford, personally select the ingredients. Buying locally is a priority, whenever possible.
"The emphasis these days is on shortening the food chain and avoiding middlemen by buying local," he said. With Ohio's climate, that is not always possible, but Ruggles has several local farmers he buys from and he attends area farmer's markets to establish relationships with reliable local suppliers.
The menu is changed approximately six times annually.
"When we become bored of what we're offering, we change it," he said. Because some regular customers express strong preferences for certain dishes, "we can't always change it as much as we'd like. It's a fine line."
Restaurant manager Christa Gleason and Jeniffer Ruggles, partner/wine buyer, choose the wines, beers and other beverages the Bistro offers. Rather than stocking 100's of varieties, Gleason narrows her choices keeping quality and customer appeal in mind.
His wife, Jen, selected the décor. Ruggles is a Kent native and she hails from Cuyahoga Falls, but the two met in Phoenix where they were working in a restaurant.
They eventually worked in restaurants in San Francisco before returning to Kent to raise their son so he would know his grandparents and extended family.
The colors of the outdoors in Arizona and Southern California impressed Tribuzzo and Ruggles. They selected the warm colors for the walls and décor. Although she plays an active role in aspects of the Bistro, her day job is as a speech therapist in Wadsworth schools.
Ruggles started cooking as a teenager when he helped his Grandpa Eddy Ruggles, the owner of Eddy's Bike Shop. Grandpa like to go into Holmes County to pick up cheese and meats for the market attached to the bike shop.
After high school, he started working in the kitchen of the Inn at Turner's Mill in Hudson. He then worked in restaurants in Cleveland and Euclid before heading west for Arizona and California.
Ruggles and his parents, David and Cathy Tribuzzo, bought the business which is located at 1313 W Main St. from the Missimi family. Tribuzzo, who owns G & T Tile and Stone, designed and installed the tile in the restaurant and the patio.
"It's a family business," he said. "We're all in it together".
Bistro on Main private dining room handles parties of up to 40 equipped with audio and Power Pont system and parties up to 24 in outdoor patio like setting in the front. The bar has higher tables for more casual dining. The traditional dining room seats up to 64 guests which can be used as private space as well.
Dinner prices, without drinks, range from $15 into the low $20 ranges. Lunches are under $15. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday at 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, BOM serves up to 10:30 p.m. Monday "Sandwich Day" specials include tomato focaccia with chicken, portabella, and hamburger with sides for $6.
It's a pressure business and Ruggles said, "You're only as good as the last plate you serve."
Ruggles said the Bistro is part of an informal association of 90 restaurants in the NEO area that promote one another's business so The Bistro on Main, he said, draws from communities throughout Northeast Ohio.
He is considering a second restaurant and micro brewery for the L.N. Gross Building 315 Gougler Avenue that now houses Dale Adams Enterprises, but the details of adequate parking and obtaining a spot designated license to sell beer and wine are yet to be worked out.
"The restaurant business is demanding," he said, "but I love the action it provides when you serve up good food and provide an atmosphere that gives the customer an enjoyable experience."