TORONTO - Jonathan and Jacy Blackwell said their lifelong dream was to open a restaurant on a river, and now that dream has come true.
"We've always wanted to open a place on the river, and here we are," said Jacy.
"Most places on the Ohio side of the river you have train tracks in view. That's not the case here," Jonathan said, noting there are no factories in view at the Driftwood Smokehouse and Marina, 1200 N. River Ave., in Toronto's north end.
DRIFTWOOD ON THE OHIO — The new owners of the Driftwood Smokehouse and Marina are betting fresh food, smoked meats, music and good times will make the venue successful. The marina in the north end of Toronto, 1200 N. River Ave., includes co-owners Jonathan and Jacy Blackwell, left, Ali Lewis and John Horn II. — Mark J. Miller
The couple moved from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., to Toronto after falling in love with the marina and its spectacular river view, they said. Friends and co-owners John Horn II and Ali Lewis also threw their energies into the restaurant/marina, and now they are spreading the news they are open for business.
The couple said the venue opened in June and includes a full-service marina, restaurant and bar. Outdoor dining will be available spring, summer and fall, while live music will be a big attraction, with live music every night of the week.
"We wanted this place to be like some of the places in (Washington)," said Jacy, adding they are seasoning the venue with their own touch with fresh, home-styled cooking, including smoked ribs and chicken.
"We don't use a microwave," said Jonathan, adding everything is prepared fresh. "We also try to buy as much local food as we can to serve here. There's no frozen food here. It's just not our style. It's real food, and it's really good."
"Everything is fresh here, and we prepare every day," said Jacy, adding they want the venue to be a slice of Americana. "We use as much local fresh food as we can find."
The Blackwells said much of the food is prepared through their own recipes or those of family members, and they pride themselves on their smoked meats, done on the property.
"Our ribs are smoked for 10 hours, and we smoke chicken for five hours," said Jonathan. "We also serve smoked fish, such as Southern-style, smoked catfish as well as smoked salmon."
"We have wonderful salads, and we make our own dressings," Jacy continued. "We source a lot of our produce from Wheeling."
The Blackwells also said they want to serve the best food possible but also keep it affordable.
The restaurant soon will boast the work of local artists for sale on its walls, and a variety of live music styles also will be part of the fun. The Blackwells said they believed in their dream
and Toronto so much they sold their home and now live in a boat docked at the marina.
"We are so thankful and appreciative of the people of Toronto," said Jacy, adding they want to spread the word about their business beyond Toronto's borders. "The people of Toronto have embraced us. If there is a service or a good available in Toronto we need, we will use it."
The business is closed Tuesdays and open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays. To reach the business, call (740) 537-0727. The business also has a Facebook page.