Edward George, owner of Akron’s Tangier Restaurant & Cabaret, may be able teach us all a lesson in staying modern. His 60,000-square-foot restaurant and entertainment facility has been know for years for its ostentatious ’70s-style glamour and glitz.
But when George and his wife, Cynthia, decided it was time to give their local landmark a facelift, they shunned the idea of a modern décor, and instead turned back the clock to the 1930s.
The last time the Georges renovated was nearly 25 years ago.
“In 1977, we spent $7 million — people thought we were nuts,” says George.
The $7 million renovation included a major expansion: building the Cabaret, a ballroom and a parking deck. At the same time, they had the entire facility redecorated to emulate a lavish Lebanese palace.
But the joke was on the critics who thought George was a little crazy. For years after the ’70s renovation, Tangier was known as a hot spot, attracting world-famous entertainers and even a president or two.
But as the Georges found out, you can’t be the hot spot forever, which is why they are now undergoing another million-dollar renovation.
“You have to sit down and say, ‘What’s it going to take?’ When you fall, you fall hard,” George says.
He decided last year that it was time to give Tangier another facelift. This time, his goal was to attract a third generation of customers — the children and grandchildren of the crowd that used to keep the restaurant roaring until the wee hours of the morning 25 years ago.
The Georges are banking on the idea that today’s 30-somethings are not interested in spending their evenings in a cold new-millennium stainless-steel environment, which is why the new style they chose is warm, yet sophisticated. In the front areas, walls have been removed to make room for a larger dining/bar area that includes several intimate seating areas, a fireplace, an open kitchen and a piano bar that begs for a Gershwin melody. Light wood and stone floors replace the bright carpets that covered the floors for years.
Cynthia George even took her time hiring a new bartender until she found one with 30 years of experience who knew how to make a dozen varieties of the Stinger.
“We’re making a real commitment to our third generation and to this location,” says Edward George. “There’s no place in the country left that keeps a place this size going. We’ve survived the changes.”
After spending $1 million just on the front area, the Georges plan to continue the renovation to include the main dining room and banquet facilities.
“We’re back … and we won’t stop fighting,” he says.
And the Georges won’t forget their loyal clientele who have come for years to dine in the glamour of the formal dining room; the waterfall and vivid murals will remain. The room will just be updated a bit, Cynthia George reassures.
Some habits are just not meant to be broken. How to reach: Tangier Restaurant & Cabaret, (330) 376-7171.