The Sidelines Sports Eatery and Pub plans to open its 230 Milan Ave. doors in mid-June. This will make the sixth location for the family-owned business.
“We opened our first location in 2000 in Lambertville, Mich., a little town kind of like this,” co-owner Eric Sitter said.
“That was 18 years ago. We since then have opened four additional locations throughout Toledo, Ohio; Maumee, Ohio; Sylvania, Ohio — this will be our sixth sports eatery.”
Sitter said it was “by luck” that Sidelines found Norwalk, which he said seems to be the perfect fit for what the restaurant has to offer.
“A friend of mine told me about this building, so we drove out here just for the heck of it and fell in love with it right away,” he added.
“We drove around town and looked to see what was around. It just kind of took off from there. (Norwalk is) like the biggest, little town I’ve ever seen. It’s like a small town; the population’s not huge, but you have a Walmart; you’ve got car dealerships; you’ve got every fast-food place you can (imagine). There are all kinds of commercial businesses, yet the town is still a small town, country (place). I live in Lambertville in Michigan and it’s very similar. It’s a small town, adjacent to a big town.”
Sitter said Sidelines is a good choice for Norwalk because it’s “not a chain.”
“Even though we have six locations, they’re all owned by the same guys,” he added.
The co-owner said the restaurant isn’t a bar, but a “sports eatery” with a bar, creating a good atmosphere all ages can enjoy.
“It’s the kind of restaurant that on a typical Friday night, you might see a couple senior citizens enjoying a fish dinner,” Sitter said.
“You might see mom and dad with the kids eating together because we have a great kids’ menu too. You might see a guy and a girl on a date. You might see college kids. It’s really diverse and it’s because of the menu, in my opinion.”
Food options are plentiful and “pretty diverse,” Sitter said, adding it’s something the owners “hang our hat on.” The menu boasts everything from burgers, baby-back ribs and sandwiches to appetizers, soups and salads.
“Our menu is really what separates us from traditional sports bars,” Sitter said.
And while there are plenty of options, that doesn’t mean the quality or quantity of a dish suffers, said Sitter, who believes “the quality is super high.”
“Probably about five or six years ago we started to only buy responsibly-raised, hormone-free, natural beef, chicken and pork. We don’t use anything but that. The quality of our ingredients is really high. We don’t like using the cheaper stuff.
“It’s the kind of place that you know you’re going to get a good meal and we fill you up. Our portions are big. The value is there. If we charge you $10, you’re going to be full and you’re probably going to be taking some home,” Sitter said. “It’s also reasonable enough that (at) most of our locations, our regulars come two to three times a week. It’s not a place you can’t afford.”
The co-owner described the setting as “fun and energetic, not too loud, but not quiet.” He said the atmosphere is one everyone can enjoy, with a focus on sports. In order to do that though the building needed a makeover.
Sitter said they are redoing and repainting the walls and more, including adding more “light-up signage” than any of its other locations, making sure Sidelines Sports Eatery and Pub won’t be missed.
“It’s going to look completely different when we get (it) done. It’ll have our look and feel to it,” he said.
“It’ll be lit up and it’ll be nice. We’re also redoing the parking lot,” added Sitter, who said the space “needs a nice facelift,” including cleaning up the landscaping, new parking lot lighting and patio furniture. “It’s going to look nice.”
Catering is a big part of Sidelines as well, with a full menu available on its website at https://www.sidelinessportseatery.com.
As part of the menu, Sitter said it could be as simple as a small pick-up order to catering a party of 100 people or more — and everything in between.
And with nearly two decades of experience, Sitter said he’s confident Sidelines will be a good fit for Norwalk.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “We’ve had restaurants in four different cities, been open 18 years. I think we have some staying power and we plan on staying here. I know everyone says that, but we stated that 18 years ago and haven’t left.”