Despite the city's long history with the Prohibition movement, a first-time restaurateur has decided that Uptown Westerville is the perfect place for a brewery.
Toni Cabilovski's Uptown Deli and Brew has been in the works for years, under several different concepts and titles.
Cabilovski settled on a hybrid deli and brewery at 41 N. State St., where his deli storefront will give way to Temperance Row Brewing in the back.
The hidden brewery, he said, fits perfectly into the city's role in the Temperance Movement.
"I'm not doing it as a theme, but it almost seems like you're walking into -- I don't want to say a speakeasy -- but what a brewery might have looked like back then, behind a deli," he said.
Cabilovski said there won't be a heavier emphasis on either the deli or the brewery, but the two will coexist. He said the business will fill a void in the area.
"If you look at Uptown, it reminds you a lot of Europe, where my family is from," he said. "Besides a gas station, there's nowhere you can walk and stop and get some groceries. So the idea was kind of to take a deli and have a small market aspect to it. You can grab a gallon of milk, bread and eggs or a sandwich and meat by the pound as well."
Enlisting the help of brewer Scott Francis, who co-founded Barley's Brewing Co. in Columbus, Cabilovski hopes to eventually have taps of his beer in establishments around central Ohio.
He said Westerville can be the next community to embrace craft beer.
"There are a lot of great places in Uptown, but there isn't a brewery," he said. "There's something about being the first one in an area. I think Uptown is picking up steam, but it's kind of a smaller Clintonville or Grandview, and I think a brewery is great in those communities, so why not Westerville?"
While he feels like he's in the home stretch, Cabilovski isn't ready to set an opening day just yet. But he hopes he's rounded a corner.
A slew of unforeseen complications and changes -- including the challenge of fitting a brewery into a small building -- has slowed the process.
Cabilovski said he has all the necessary approvals for his business and is now doing minor construction and electrical work, as well as installing kitchen and brewing equipment.
"I learned my lesson about giving dates," he said with a laugh. "When doing something like this, there's always something unforeseen that can happen."
The deli represents the culmination of a dream for Cabilovski, who has worked in just about every job in the food-service industry, including a stint as manager at Jimmy V's Grill & Pub in Westerville.
"When you start washing dishes at 16, you never think, 'I'll own a restaurant one day,' " he said. "It's weird that that first job as a kid influenced the whole rest of my life."