Lyric Bistro in downtown Fairport Harbor displays a row of original movie posters from 1914 to 1967. In the June 13 photo, the store’s owner, Terry Vale, sits in the foreground of these posters. Lyric Bistro opened on May 6, and its sandwiches are also named after famous movies. Located at 225 High St., Lyric Bistro serves food and alcoholic beverages while offering patrons everything from band performances and open mic nights to classic movies and vinyl listening. (Bill Debs – The News Herald)
Terry Vale has used his expertise as a business owner and contractor, mixed with his love of film, to help make downtown Fairport a more entertaining place.
Vale’s new business, Lyric Bistro, is a venue that serves food and alcohol, while offering patrons everything from band performances and open mic nights to watching classic movies and listening to vinyl records.
“We had a great time,” says Vale, referring to the atmosphere Lyric Bistro has created since it opened at 225 High St on May 6.
A historic photo on Lyric Bistro’s Facebook page shows the same building was used as a grocery and hardware store years ago.
In addition to launching and operating Lyric Bistro, Vale plans to convert the former Lyric Theater at 223 High St. into a Lyric by the Lake event center.
Vale is able to easily oversee multiple businesses and projects. In fact, he owns seven businesses, including Harbor Construction Co., which he founded 41 years ago in Fairport Harbor.
“I’m also a licensed general contractor and commercial roofer in Florida,” he said. “From 1983 until the late ’90s, I built roofs for thousands of Burger Kings and Arbys and other fast food restaurants.”
A Fairport Harbor resident, Vale entered into a rent-to-own agreement about two years ago for the Lyric Bistro building at 225 High St.
Lyric isn’t the first bistro-style business to occupy 225 High St. in recent years. Before the COVID-19 pandemic became a serious public health threat in March 2020, Diamond Bistro hosted open mic nights, musical performances and comedy performances in the building for about three years, Vale said.
Diamond Bistro is owned and operated by Vale’s daughter, Elizabeth Grafious. Vale said events at the venue drew large crowds even though Diamond did not have a liquor license.
The Diamond Bistro is permanently closed after the Ohio Department of Health ordered all non-essential businesses to cease operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We closed it but kept the lease,” Vale said.
After the pandemic restrictions were lifted and concerns over COVID-19 eased, Vale began aggressively pursuing plans to open a new bistro there. But this institution differs from diamonds in several ways.
Not only did Weir get a liquor license, he decided to decorate the bistro’s interior with features that reflected his love of classic movies.
One interior wall, for example, is covered with movie posters ranging from the 1914 short play A Test of Manliness starring Dorothy Davenport and Fred Whitman to the 1967 Warren Beatty and Bonnie and Clyde starring Faye Dunaway. The 1930s, 1940s and 1950s also appear in the lineup.
“These are original movie posters,” he said. “My supplier was Morris Everett, the owner of Kirtland’s last film company.”
Lyric Bistro also plays classic movies on portable projection screens when the bistro doesn’t have musicians, singers or comedians scheduled to perform.
On the morning of June 13, patrons can watch “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”. Humphrey Bogart starred in this 1948 film.
“I love Humphrey Bogart,” Weir said.
Even the food specials on the menu are described with movie-related titles.
Sandwiches include ‘When Harry Met Sally, I’ll Eat What She Eats’, which is pastrami, Swiss cheese and mustard on marbled bread. Or, there’s the “Scream Like a Pig to the Rescue”—a flatbread consisting of pulled pork and coleslaw.
Lyric Bistro’s hours of operation and scheduled music or other entertainment are as follows, according to a June 22 post on the company’s Facebook page:
• Monday to Wednesday: 11am to 7pm
• Thursday: 11am-midnight, open mics 8pm-midnight.
• Friday: 11am to 2:30am, karaoke and comedy from 8pm to 11pm or midnight.
• Saturday: 8:00 am to 2:30 am with band performance from 8:00 pm to midnight.
• Sunday: Closed.
The Lyric Bistro also hosts some vinyl nights, during which patrons are welcome to bring a vinyl to play to everyone in the room.
“We’ve always wanted to hear the stories behind the vinyl records they brought,” Weir said.
In 2018, Vale purchased the building at 223 High St., which used to house the Lyric Theatre. Lyric Bistro states on its Facebook page that EE Lawrence opened the theater in 1921 and it remained open until the early 1960s.
While Vale knew he wouldn’t be renovating the theater right away, he did find an immediate use for the building. The building’s former lobby houses the offices of T. Vale Properties, while the theater itself is used as a warehouse.
Vale said he has been slowly renovating the theater into the Lyric by the Lake Events Center.
He expects the center could eventually host events such as weddings, banquets or theater performances.
Weir said he has been working on extending the theater’s front stage further and adding stairs. If the table is being set up for an event, he might name the seating area after a movie, such as Mary Poppins or Dirty Harry.
Vale noted that the building materials of the old theater were impressive.
“The wrought iron in this building is very well done and the floors are very solid,” he said.
Vale has not set an expected completion date for the Lyric by the Lake event centre. But he believes the place will be a welcome addition to downtown, especially for Port Fairport residents who have fond memories of visiting the Lyric Theater in its heyday.
“You should hear the girls[who visit the Lyric Bistro]tell me things like, ‘Here’s my first kiss,’” he said. “Some of their stories are just amazing. “