Nostalgia and the satisfaction of comfort food done right are equally savored at Berea Depot Bar and Restaurant

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With rows of umbrella-covered tables, Scott Ita and Lynn McLaughlin’s inviting Berea Depot patio is hopping now that the weather is pleasant. Look for live music from local favorites, every Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Patricia Nugent

To be successful in the restaurant business, you have to do things differently than anyone around you,” says Scott Ita.

And he should know.

After starting in the business washing dishes at age 14, he rose to preparing dishes at the former Classics, at the time Ohio’s only AAA Five-Diamond Award-winning restaurant. He’s also done chef stints at Don’s Lighthouse, Quail Hollow Resort, the Aurora Inn and Linden Tavern just to name a few.

When he and wife, Lynn McLaughlin, both antique lovers and history buffs, found out the circa 1876 Berea Depot was for sale, they dove right in and found big and little ways to “do things differently.” The formula is working, as their Berea Depot Bar and Restaurant celebrates its first anniversary this summer.

“We injected a bit of ourselves into the historic décor,” says Lynn. “It’s like a museum, with so many interesting objects to explore.”

They brought some of their cherished antiques from home and also built a replica vintage miniature train track chugging along high above the tables of the dining room…a delight for kids of all ages.

Cosmopolitan Fusion
Scott credits his Slovak heritage with getting the ideal balance of spices right in the restaurant’s signature Hungarian Paprika Chicken. He says it’s all in the ratio of smoked paprika to sour cream, onions, hand-made spaetzle and tender chicken.

“Diners come from all over just for this dish, saying it’s as authentic as the one they remember growing up,” says Scott.

For an eclectic take on a fave superfood, try the Warm Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Salad, a tantalizing dish of braised sprouts, bacon, red onion, blistered tomatoes and fresh grated Parmesan tossed in a shallot vinaigrette.

If Scott were to choose his “last meal,” the selection would be easy.

“Our ribs are braised for six hours in their own juices, then seared on the grill and smothered in a chipotle barbecue sauce and served with slaw and fries,” he says.

Everything here is made by hand, down to the sauces and dressings. Scott even has a special smoker fired up out back for his mouth-watering meats.

His cuisine is a hit with diners, and judges as well, as Berea Depot won a Best Appetizer competition with its Pork Tacos in Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest earlier this year.

“You Can Feel the Vibrations”
With the trains whizzing by at 76 miles per hour, just a few yards away from the track-side restaurant and patio, you can literally feel the vibrations as they arrive and depart, about every half hour. Each train car has a story, whether it’s colorful graffiti or guessing the mystery contents and that adds to the dining experience.

With rows of umbrella-covered tables, the inviting patio is hopping now that the weather is pleasant. Look for live music from local favorites, every Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m.

Take a Step Back in Time
Adjacent to the main depot station, a Pullman train car is perfect for private parties, wine dinners, family reunions, corporate events, showers, rehearsal dinners and even intimate family weddings.

The décor harkens back to the Victorian era, with green and burgundy window treatments, antique light fixtures and beautiful vintage furniture.

“You really feel like you’re back in the early 1900s,” says Lynn. “And we strove to keep that historic vibe.”

Within the Pullman is a main dining space, separate bar/seating area and a private patio off the back.

Berea Depot is located at 30 Depot Street in Berea. Book your reservations online. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Call 440-243-6169 or visit for more information. Check out their Facebook page for a list of musicians who’ll be performing on Saturdays.

Categories: Westside Food & Dining