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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2005

Packo's adding ethnic flavor

BY TAD VEZNER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Tony Packo's Cafe will soon be the central hub of a larger East Toledo entertainment district - a neighborhood "village" with traces of a Hungarian flavor.

Packo's, at Front and Consaul streets, has been around since 1932, smack in the middle of the Birmingham area's ethnic roots. But a series of adjacent property purchases by the Packo family over the past year have broadened the business' scope.

Tucker's Bar & Grill, two doors down at 1933 Consaul, and Consaul Tavern, at 1935 Consaul, have both been purchased and are undergoing extensive renovation, with new facades and reworked interiors.

North of Packo's along Front, several houses have been bought and leveled to make room for 60 or so parking spaces.

While Rob Horvath, chief operating officer of Packo's, said he'd like to qualify the area under development as a "Hungarian Village," he won't commit every establishment to having a Hungarian theme.

"[The development will be] more out of respect for the neighborhood and heritage that still exists in this area," he said. "We have yet to work out all the concepts for each establishment."

He estimated that the area, a Toledo stronghold of Hungarian culture, has slipped over the decades so that perhaps only a quarter of those living there now are of Hungarian descent.

But plans are to reopen Consaul Tavern as a neighborhood bar.

"Someplace where everyone knows your name, everyone feels safe; a place you could even take your kid into and not get funny looks," Mr. Horvath said. "We want this to be an east-side bar. We want this to be local."

As for the University of Toledo college crowd, "I'm not going to throw 'em out, but I'm not going to market to 'em," he said.

Mr. Horvath said he will import the "Birmingham Hall of Fame" - a collage of pictures of neighborhood leaders, advocates, and personalities - from the basement of the school adjacent to the St. Stephen Catholic Church, a half-block down, into the new tavern.

He hopes to reopen Consaul Tavern under its original name by the end of the year.

Part of the building's rehabilitation included stripping away its old aluminum siding - which in June revealed a vintage, late-1930s Pepsi-Cola sign as large as the building's east wall. An artist has started restoring the mural, after a hole accommodating an old air conditioning unit was patched.

As for Tucker's, Mr. Horvath said he has yet to decide on a "concept" for the establishment, adding only that it would be an "entertainment venue."

Between the two bars and the original Packo's sits a house, once lived in by members of the Packo family.

Mr. Horvath said he will convert the house into part of the entertainment district, but, again, he isn't sure into what he will convert it.

Plans are to get the new venues fully developed by the end of 2006.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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