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Published: Saturday, 8/25/2007

Dillin adds businesses to Levis Commons

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

In developer Larry Dillin's mind, his Town Center at Levis Commons retail center and adjacent housing complex in Perrysburg are "all about building a great community."

To that end, Mr. Dillin yesterday announced details of a $15 million entertainment annex that will be a key part of his second phase at the already successful Levis Commons, located off of State Rt. 25, just south of the U.S. 23/I-475 interchange.

The new annex's tenants are Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi, which features chefs who entertain with knife and spatula tricks while cooking; Fat Fish Blue, a Mardi Gras-themed restaurant that features live blues acts; the Funny Bone, a national comedy club chain with seating for 300 that will be connected to Fat Fish Blue, and St. Julian's Fitness Center, a locally owned upscale fitness center to serve the Levis Commons area and Perrysburg residents.

Mr. Dillin is also constructing an outdoor amphitheater, a seven story, 184-room Hilton Garden Inn with a 25,000-square-foot conference center, more stores, offices, and residential lofts. The second phase will cost $55 million.

The restaurants, comedy club, and fitness center will be open by next spring.

Toledo already has an existing comedy club, Connxtions, on Heatherdowns Boulevard at Reynolds Road, plus plenty of clubs where live music is played. But veteran Toledo entertainment industry executive Kip Diacou, whose clubs feature live rock and country acts, thinks the Levis Commons entertainment annex will be a success.

"Really, there's nothing like that around here," he said. "I don't see why it can't be successful. I think it's a great idea." He said the Toledo market is big enough to support another comedy club and a blues venue. An upscale site like Levis Commons should tap into a market other sites in town can't. "There's nothing for us older people to go to be entertained," he said. "I don't have any place to go to. I would go there."

Fat Fish Blue has a successful location in downtown Cleveland, but owner Steve Zamborsky said Toledo intrigued him and Levis Commons cinched the deal. His restaurant will have live regional and national blues artists six days a week. Promoters like the idea that name acts will be able to play Toledo in between weekend gigs in Chicago or Cleveland, he said. Funny Bone will be connected to Fat Fish Blue, and the restaurant will serve food to the comedy club's patrons.

"When I met [Funny Bone owner] Mitch Kutash, I knew I wanted to team up with him," Mr. Zamborsky said. "We agreed that this really makes sense. Most comedy clubs don't have a real established restaurant connection and it's never been done before. Levis will be the first," he said.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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