Chamber recognizes ‘Small Business of the Year’ finalists


By Mackenzi Klemann - mklemann@limanews.com



LIMA — Finalists for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year award include two popular downtown eateries and a family-owned electronics store.

Old City Prime

Good Foods Restaurant founder and President John Heaphy renovated a historic building on Lima’s South Main Street, transforming the property into Lima’s sole upscale steakhouse and modern-day supper club. It was a community project for Heaphy, who wanted to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Lima.

“I felt that, compared to growing up in Lima when there was more fine dining, that something had gone away,” Heaphy said.

Guests enjoy dinner on the main floor, with live entertainment available in the upper lounge, for what Heaphy describes as a “whole night out,” or a revival of the supper club concept. It’s a markedly different approach to dining than Heaphy’s other ventures, Happy Daz and Beer Barrel Pizza.

The restaurant, which closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, is slated to reopen June 18. Beer Barrel and Happy Daz, which were already designed for drive-thru and takeout service, remained open.

“Fine dining is going to be the toughest type of restaurant to make a return,” Heaphy said, “because typically fine dining doesn’t have much takeout business. They come to (fine dining) for the experience. And a lot of fine dining restaurants are smaller, so social distancing makes it tough for capacity issues.”

The Met

Rob Nelson started The Met as a wine bar with a small kitchen, joining the movement to make downtown Lima trendy. Today, The Met offers an eclectic menu of gourmet burgers, large plates and appetizers and a wide range of spirits.

“What hasn’t changed at all is that we still feel we are the beacon for downtown,” Nelson said, “and that we’re here to change people’s perceptions of what Lima is and can be. We always say, ‘We’re the new Lima.’”

Because of COVID-19, The Met has incorporated curbside pickup and will soon debut an online ordering system. Still, Nelson hopes to eventually open more seats within the restaurant when it is safe to do so.

“We fully understand why they’re social distancing now,” he said. “We’ll keep rolling with it.”

Nelson credited his success in downtown Lima in part to fellow finalists John Heaphy and Brian Barry, both of whom he said are committed to moving the downtown area forward.

Barry Electronics

David Barry founded the family business in 1976, but what started as a commercial electric and air compressor venture has since evolved into a specialty home and auto electronics store. The business is now run by Barry’s sons, Scott and Brian Barry.

This is the third consecutive year Barry Electronics has been nominated for Small Business of the Year.

The family-owned electronics store found a niche for itself by adapting faster than the competition, Brian Barry said. In 2004, for example, the Barrys started carrying lighting automation systems. They now carry everything from motion and proximity sensors to automated HVAC systems and even integration with voice-activated control systems, such as Alexa.

“We could see the openings and the gaps of what was being offered in the Lima area,” co-owner Brian Barry said. “That’s where we excelled. We pushed the limits on what other people are willing to sell.”

The Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual awards gala from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, in the Lima Community Church parking lot, 2945 N. Cole St. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Awards and dinner will be served drive-in style.

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By Mackenzi Klemann

mklemann@limanews.com

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