Westlake restaurateur returns to hometown

The location of the recently-closed Saucy Bistro restaurant at 24481 Detroit Rd. in Westlake has been home to great restaurants through the years. Now native Westlaker Paul Schell returns to his hometown to open SB eighty-one on Oct. 7 and 8.

Paul was born and raised here, a graduate of Westlake High School. He left 25 years ago in a move to Hollywood in pursuit of his dream to become an actor. He did some acting and modeling but also needed to supplement his income, as most people do in the industry, which led him to the and restaurant and nightclub community.

Paul’s last venture in California was owner of the Blue Ultra Lounge and Restaurant in Agoura Hills, just outside of Los Angeles.

As children entered he and his wife’s lives, he took a step back to realize that Los Angeles "wasn’t the same place that I moved to 25 years ago; I didn't seem to belong anymore.”

After a conversation with his brother, who was talking him into to returning to his roots, Paul convinced his wife to make the move back to Westlake.

Paul took some time looking at several restaurants possibilities but when all was said and done he saw his best opportunity right in his hometown.

“I was amazed at how busy restaurants were in Cleveland,” he said. “Out in California, I hadn’t seen restaurants this busy in the past five years.”

Paul is giving the restaurant an updated look, with the dining room and bar keeping a casual classiness. The cellar has been given a dance floor, along with a revamped bar. Acoustical entertainment will be featured. Paul even mentioned bringing in  some nationally recognized acts, such as Bad Company, The Black Crowes and Eddie Money.

The menu will stay pretty much the same as Saucy Bistro's. Eventually, the menu will move to an Italian/French cuisine. Nick Dlugoss, sous chef when Paul took over, has been promoted to executive chef. Nick has trained under chefs Marlin Kaplin at One Walnut and Sara Sherapita, formerly of Saucy Bistro now of Luxe.

Paul talked of plans for an organic, hormone-free chicken entrée that will be on the menu and a portion of the proceeds of the meal will go to breast cancer research.

No matter where you are in the restaurant, Paul told me, you will be offered the same menu. “I never liked seeing one menu for the bar and another for the dining room; it never made sense to me” he said.

SB eighty-one will also be offering a Sunday brunch, slated to start on Oct. 16, the details of which are still being worked on.

During my conversation with Paul I couldn’t help but feel his excitement of being back in Westlake and having the opportunity to share his success with his hometown and showcasing it in his restaurant.

“More than anything, I want to exceed people's expectations,” Paul said. Once you meet him I think you would agree that he probably will.

SB eighty-one is located at 24481 Detroit Rd. in Westlake; 440-835-3559, sbeightyone.com.

Steve Novak

Steve Novak lives in Westlake.

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Volume 3, Issue 20, Posted 3:53 PM, 10.04.2011