“It’s been a struggle from the get-go,” admits Grove Hill chef-owner Tim Bando. “And knowing that this is the time of year it really starts getting shitty again, the writing was on the wall.”
Bando opened Grove Hill four years ago this summer in the former home of Raintree, a Chagrin Falls dining institution that lasted more than 40 years. That surprising closure proved to be a foreshadowing of an ever-evolving restaurant landscape that also saw the shuttering of neighborhood stalwarts like Rick’s Café and Gamekeeper’s Tavern.
In a family-rich community like Chagrin Falls there are slow months, slow summers, and slow weeks following the opening of new restaurants, when it’s compulsory to sample the latest offerings. And there have been many, Bando points out.
“Right now, at four years old, we’re the third-oldest restaurant in Chagrin Falls,” he says in a head-scratching statement.
Throughout the four-year run, Bando has tried everything short of rebuilding the physical structure to right the ship, from adding weekend brunch and lunch, to reducing the ambitiousness and price of the menu offerings. But without investing significant capital to add a patio – or at the least a façade of garage doors that offers a similar experience – the future looked bleak.
“It became pretty clear to me early on that without a patio, we were out of the game,” he says.
A quarter century ago, Bando began his professional cooking career alongside Michael Symon at the Caxton Café – and he’s been around the block more than few times. But Grove Hill is the first restaurant he has owned, and it’s the first restaurant that he’s been compelled to close, which officially occurred following a private event on Saturday.
Bando says that he still is in the process of unraveling the whole operation and hasn’t given much thought to where he’ll go next or what he’ll do when he gets there.