Cafaro clears St. Clairsville site for future development

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Nearly seven years after the last porterhouse steak left its grill, Cafaro Co. officials demolished the former Bonanza Steakhouse building outside the Ohio Valley Mall to meet additional demands for retail space.

“We don’t have any formal agreements with tenants yet,” Cafaro spokesman Joe Bell said. “We are very pleased with the response we are getting. The demand is there.”

The centrally located portion of land outside the mall is now near multiple hotels, while it is directly across from the Boscov’s megastore that is inside the mall. Bell said there are numerous opportunities for development at the site.

“We are looking for construction to begin soon,” Bell said of the planned multi-unit facility. “Hopefully, by the end of the year, we’ll have some new businesses in there.”

Although Bell declined to identify any specific potential businesses, he said they could include service providers, as well as food options and other retail shops.

Having operated outside the mall since 1980, Bonanza shut down in summer 2009. At the time, the mall seemed to be on the decline, as J.C. Penney left in 2007 for a new freestanding store at the Highlands in Ohio County.

However, since that time, several new hotels have opened in the vicinity of the mall; the giant Boscov’s store opened in 2013; the mall’s interior has been extensively remodeled; Rural King debuted in the location originally occupied by the Hills department store; and the h.h. gregg appliance store opened in the building formerly home to Kroger and later T.J. Maxx.

“For a while, we left it up,” Bell said of the Bonanza building. “We realized that it probably would not fit the needs of another restaurant, so we decided to move forward” with demolition.

The Bonanza building was the last of the original eateries on the mall’s perimeter. Contractors demolished the original McDonald’s structure to make way for the current one in the mid-2000s; Long John Silver’s replaced Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips in the early 1980s before a new building to house both Long John’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken later opened; and the Rax restaurant was removed to make room for the Candlewood Suites hotel.