November 22, 2014

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Businesses struggle through Grafton roadwork

Orange barrels line state Route 57 in Grafton on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Orange barrels line state Route 57 in Grafton on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

GRAFTON — Businesses are beginning to feel the pinch from the state Route 57 widening project.

On July 12, Route 57 was limited to one-lane, one-way traffic from Barrington Drive to the railroad tracks near Erie Street as crews put up orange road construction barrels.

But business owners along the stretch are scrambling to let customers know they are open and encouraging people not to let an inability to travel north deter them from patronizing local establishments.

China House, 411 N. Main St., has a large “Open” sign out front but owner Xia Lin estimates her sales are already down 30 percent to 50 percent.

“It’s very bad,” Lin said. “So many businesses all say the same thing. Many customers drive 57.”

Across the street at Nancy’s Diner, 426 N. Main St., owner Denise Shutek expressed the same sentiment.

“We’re suffering,” Shutek said. “We’re trying to work with the village, and we all had the understanding the village was going to work with the businesses. I don’t really feel as though that’s coming to light.”

Traffic on state Route 57, which is Grafton’s Main Street, is expected to remain one-way with one lane of traffic going through the village until at least November.

Traffic on state Route 57, which is Grafton’s Main Street, is expected to remain one-way with one lane of traffic going through the village until at least November.

Shutek said her main concern is that larger signs be placed at the city limits informing drivers that the road and businesses are still open. Village administrator Alyson Moritz admitted there were complaints when work began because signs said “Road Closed.” She said signs were changed and plans are in the works to put out even larger signs to let people know the village’s Main Street is still open for business.

“I just talked to representatives from ODOT, and we are going to be able to change some of the signs coming into the village,” she said. “A lot of business owners did take issue with the road-closed signs because they felt that was detouring customers around their business.”

Moritz said the road will remain one-way until November.

“We need to have two-way traffic back open this fall,” Moritz said. “Keeping one-way traffic through winter and next spring is not an option. Our businesses can’t sustain that kind of closure for that long.”

Rich Guyeska, owner of Protech Automotive and Bullseye Firearms, 788 Main St., said he brought the sign issue to light at a recent Village Council meeting, and he hopes the administration acts fast to get more “open” signs out. But he also said it is up to business owners to do what they can to draw customers in.

“I have adapted and taken on some contracts I normally wouldn’t do on the automotive end to keep me going,” he said. “On the gun end, we are running a lot of collector and Internet sales, just doing what we can. Owners need to adapt, run sales and advertise. If you just sit back and hope it’s going to work for you, it’s probably not going to happen.”

The Unicorn Restaurant and Pub, 423 N. Main St., owned by Mayor Megan Flanigan’s family, is one of those businesses getting creative in an attempt to draw people. Manager Kevin Hastings said lunch sales are definitely down but dinner is holding steady.

On Thursday night, the establishment held its first “Orange Barrel Party” with specials and live music by Irish performers Brigid’s Cross.
Hastings said there will be another “Orange Barrel Party” in August in an attempt to keep sales steady. He said The Unicorn is fortunate because they are a well-established business with a widespread customer base.

“We’re trying to make a good situation out of a bad,” Hastings said. “The big thing out here is we’ve got to support each other.”

Guyeska echoed Hastings’ sentiments, saying Grafton residents should continue to buy locally.

“I drive an alternate route every morning so I can still get my coffee in town,” Guyeska said. “It’s a slight inconvenience, an extra five minutes, but if it keeps the money in town, it’s worth it.”

The $4.62 million project, 80 percent of which is funded with federal dollars, includes widening the 1.25-mile stretch to include a turning lane, adding new water and sewer lines, storm drains, curbs and sidewalks on both sides of the road.

Twinsburg-based Shelly Company is the general contractor overseeing the project, Moritz said.

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonWysochanski. 


  • villager

    Village Council continues to disappoint. Most of the residents of Grafton are unhappy with this project and never wanted it. A red light would have done the job. To spend $80M dollars on a 1.25 mile road is ridiculous. And as far as “free money”, where do they think the federal dollars come from? Harvest Café has already closed. Sparkle Market is nearly vacant when we shop there. How many more to go? Add this disappointment to the Poggemeyer shoddiness makes the voters of this Village want to vote out all council incumbents that supported it.

  • Tonya Shaffer Stillwell

    Detour signs for those traveling south on 57 would be helpful, too. Not all people traveling on Rte 57 are local and it is difficult figuring out how to get around the closed road to get to where you need to go.

    • Bill

      You can travel south on 57 and access all the business. It is traveling north where they need the detour signs.

      • Tonya Shaffer Stillwell

        You’re right- it is north. That’s what I meant. Thanks.

  • Bill

    It is a project that wasn’t needed. Plain and simple no matter how they tried to dress it up and sell it.
    Now you have the idiotic construction crews and their dump trucks/heavy equipment that seem to make it a point to whip out in front of you causing you to brake sharply and then come to a complete stop for reasons only apparent to them.
    I was making it a point to go to these businesses during this time but not after this has happened to me several times.

  • bigglynn

    and the ones who continue to support it yes a few signs to follow a detour would be nice for the out of town ppl

  • Sis Delish

    This reminds me of that scolding our current occupant of The White House said about small businesses.. “You didn’t build that by yourselves!!”, referring to infrastructure, etc. provided by the collective taxes. … Seems those that Give can Take Away, Mr. Occupant?

  • Casey Hearn

    I manage the little Verizon store on 57 and this is burying us. I know it is tough on a vehicle (trust me I drive 57 3-4 times a day and it is tearing up my car) but if people want us to be here after this clears up we need people shopping here.

    • Razorback Twou

      “want us to be here” kind of smug aren’t you? What makes you so sure people do?

      • Bill

        Didn’t think Casey was being smug at all.

        • Casey Hearn

          Thanks Bill. And by want us to be here I mean all of the small businesses.

          I enjoy working in the community I was raised in. I want to continue to do so.

  • Flabetz

    Wasn’t needed? The road was falling apart, maybe the 3rd lane wasn’t but something was needed. 4.62 million not 80M

  • oldruss

    We were traveling north on Rte 57 yesterday (Friday) afternoon, and at Grafton-Eastern Road, the DETOUR signs took us on north on Rte. 83 up to Rte. 82, where we were sent west to rejoin Rte. 57. We missed all the road construction, BUT, we also missed all of downtown Grafton too. No pit stop at the Unicorn for a pint!

  • Beentheredonethat

    Why are these businesses complaining? After all it wasn’t their own hard work that built the business the goverment did! The goverment gives, the goverment takes away!