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Eatery embraces history

City council approves site plan, alley lease for revived Monk’s Place
Solon City Council members approved a revised site plan for a new restaurant planned for the former Solon Station on Main Street at a meeting Feb. 7. The illustration of the courtyard above was included with the site plan application. (rendering by Shive-Hattery)

SOLON– “Monk” Meyers is returning to downtown Solon.
The previous owner of a bar at 122 E. Main St., the former Solon Station, will be invoked in the moniker for a new Prohibition-inspired eatery planned for the building.
Details surrounding the new venture were unveiled Wednesday, Feb. 7, as the members of the Solon City Council considered a site plan for the building submitted by John Burchert of MAiNGREDIENT.
When asked by Mayor Steve Stange about the vision for the property, Burchert said usually there’s a general direction in mind, but the end theme of a venture is often discovered as part of local history.
“The story kind of comes out of it as you get in there,” Burchert said. “I would’ve never guessed the amount of history that we’ve kind of found inside this town, let alone inside that building.”
As the premises was gutted, he said, they began to peel back the layers, finding an old promotional coin and char marks, hinting at the background of the place.
Added with multiple stories from members of the Solon American Legion, it built a “pretty cool” story as a backdrop for the new establishment, he said.
Based on the historical nuggets unearthed during the process of renovating the structure, Burchert said the new restaurant would be named Monk Meyers Tavern & Fare as a tribute to Charles “Monk” Meyers (1907-1983).
The restaurant will have “kind of a prohibition type feel to it but with a very modern twist,” he noted, based on local folk tales of bootlegging in the Solon area.
“A lot of the stories are probably true,” Burchert said. “We hear stories of the whiskey runs that took place, and maybe there was a rather large-sized vehicle that had two gas tanks, one on one side, you put in gas, and the other… you guys can figure that out.”
Burchert hinted that the Main Street location operated as a speakeasy in the 1920s, when Prohibition was in place, hidden behind a barbershop storefront.
The 18th Amendment to the Constitution criminalized the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcoholic liquors from Jan. 16, 1920, until its repeal by the 21st Amendment, which went into effect Dec. 5, 1933.
That year, 1933, was the year “Monk” Meyers opened his bar and married his wife, according to an obituary in the Solon Economist.
Charles “Monk” Meyers was born March 21, 1907, and died Aug. 10, 1983. He married Helen Atkinson Sept. 19, 1933, and operated Monk’s Place from 1933 until his retirement in 1967, the obituary noted.
The pictorial history book “Solon Snapshots” also credits Meyers with being a member of Solon’s first football team in 1921.
“It’s been a fun project so far,” Burchert said. “We’re just super-excited for the opportunity to play a part. As you can see, we’re very passionate about our projects, we’re very passionate about our team and our people, we love the creativity and we think we can really bring something special to this.”
The site plan already has a colorful history of its own.
Introduced to the full council in October 2017, the plan was originally tabled after objections aired by the owners of Salt Fork Kitchen, located across the alley. Salt Fork’s Jay Schworn and Eric Menzel said they had not been approached about a plan to use the alley between the two buildings as an outdoor dining area.
The Salt Fork partners and Ryan Wade, the new adjacent property owner, met with city officials subsequently and talked it out, and a revised site plan, reflecting Salt Fork’s desire to maintain access to the alley, was unanimously approved at an Oct. 18 meeting.
Originally, Wade Investments, which submitted the original 2017 site plan, sought to lease all of the existing alley between Salt Fork and the Station from the city for use as a fenced-in dining area.
The first plan also depicted four employee parking spots at the rear of the building and two new stalls on Main Street in front of the leased alley.
In the revised plan, the alley dining area was restricted to allow a 4-foot walkway on the Salt Fork side. To gain back the square footage for outdoor dining, the rear parking spaces were eliminated.
According to site plan documents, the entire alley will be paved with concrete to match the existing grade. The dining area will be enclosed by a 6-foot fence.
The lease agreement between Wade Investments and the city for use of the alley was approved at a Jan. 17 council meeting.
Under the agreement, Wade will rent approximately 1,440 square feet of space at a cost of $3 per square foot annually, or $4,320, for an initial five-year period.
If no termination notice is given by the tenant during the first five years, the lease continues for five additional years, according to Solon City Attorney Kevin Olson. After 10 years, either party can terminate with 365 days notice, and if not, the lease continues for three-year terms. After each term, the rental price will be adjusted.
Wade will be responsible for maintaining access for utilities buried in the alley, and will be required to obtain liability insurance.
According to City Administrator Cami Rasmussen, a site plan wouldn’t have been needed except for a 300 square foot kitchen addition at the back of the building.
“These guys are ready to get going,” Rasmussen told council members. “This needs approval and then they can submit a building permit.”