Bearden’s is back: Popular River restaurant reopening in September

Bearden’s operator Michael McBride looks on as Rocky River Safety Service Director Jim Linden and Mayor Pam Bobst enjoy a tasty Bearden’s burger. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)

The wait is over.

After months of speculation, Rocky River residents officially found out that the iconic Bearden’s Restaurant, which closed in December, will reopen in the fall.

“We can finally make the announcement,” said economic development director Kory Koran at last weekend’s River Days celebration. He pointed out the tent where Mike McBride and his crew were serving up Bearden Burgers to customers including Mayor Pam Bobst and Safety Service Director Jim Linden. The booth was complete with the engine from the famous train that makes it s way around the ceiling of the restaurant.

“Come and see us in September,” McBride called out, referring to when he plans to reopen the restaurant, which has been a fixture in the city for over 40 years. Koran said that owner Joe Orange will still be “in the picture” and that McBride will be leasing Bearden’s from Orange. McBride stated that while some remodeling is in the plans, menu favorites will remain, such as Bobst’s favorite, the Peanut Burger.

Orange had indicated in December that the ongoing Lake Road construction project had cut significantly into his business. This, coupled with knee surgery, led to his decision to close the eatery at the end of 2010. The closing drew so many customers that they formed a line snaking around the building on the last day of operation.

McBride is inviting past customers to “be a part of the new Bearden’s” by submitting memories and photos to

The Bearden’s booth highlighted a River Days celebration, which organizers called the best ever. Chamber of Commerce CEO Liz Manning stated that over 600 people attended Taste of River/Buy River, sponsored by Recovery Resources, at the Don Umerley Civic Center, with many vendors selling out before the three-hour event was over. She added that of the 27 vendors selling samples of their wares, Pearl of the Orient, Dolce Wraps and Chick-fil-A dispensed the most food.

The sense of community extended from the crowd to the vendors according to Manning. “It was a very touching moment when I saw Jim Chillemi from The Woods helping George Hwang of Pearl of the Orient serving egg rolls and California Rolls after The Woods ran out of food. That is a sign of what this community is,” she stated.

In conjunction with the food festivities, the chocolate chip cookie-baking contest, sponsored by Baker and Company, drew about 50 entrants in two categories, over and under 21. Winners for the adult group and their prizes included Rose Wilson ($150 for first place), Kathleen Lyons Henderson ($75 for second place) and Bobbi Wenner in third place.

In the children’s category, which was also judged by kids, the winner was Haley Mylett ($75) and the sister and brother team of Rachel and Mac Milenius, who took second ($50) and third ($25) respectively.

Recreation Director Tom Fattlar agreed that the celebration went well, drawing record crowds in the city’s first year of sponsorship. He reported that 1,250 swimmers participated in the free swim at the outdoor pool on Saturday, while 440 pieces of pie were served by city officials at “Pie in the Park” at Rocky River City Park on Sunday, prior to a performance by Beatle’s tribute band Revolution Pie. Fattlar added that a record number of 100 children kicked off the celebration with the bike parade on Saturday. He said the good weather and the great crowd added up to a successful event.

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