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These days, new restaurants serve more than just food and drink.

Noodlefun, which opened last month in downtown Warren, and Condado Tacos, which opened Thursday in Boardman, are examples of restaurants incorporating the work of local artists into their interior design.

“It’s nice that the community can come together, show off and support each other,” said James Shuttic, artist and director of the Trumbull County Council of Fine Arts. “They could have gone for the cookie cutter art, patterns in taupes and browns. It’s nice to see this growing trend of restaurateurs choosing to showcase the arts and community.

Condado Tacos, which opened its first restaurant in Columbus in 2014, now has 33 locations in seven states. Alyssa Martin, head of visual experience for Condado, said working with local artists helps them connect in new cities.

“We always wanted to retain the local vibe however we could, and the artwork turned into another way of doing that, hiring local artists,” said Martin. “It gives the impression of being part of the city. We don’t want to be something that doesn’t fit or doesn’t feel right to the people who live here.

Condado diners will find themselves surrounded by colorful murals on every wall of the high-ceilinged restaurant at 1051 Boardman-Poland Road. The drive-in movie theme of the murals was inspired by the drive-ins that still operate in the Mahoning Valley, and the work includes elements that take inspiration from the former Idora Park amusement park and the Dave and Ed’s Super Swap Meets at Canfield Fairgrounds. .

After about two months of planning, Martin said, a team of artists spent three weeks working in the space as soon as the drywall was in place.

Liberty’s Joe Gergley, one of the artists Condado hired for the project, said it was a great opportunity.

“There aren’t many local artists doing big mural concerts in this area,” said Gergley. “The art isn’t much publicized in the area, so when the opportunity arises to put some of it out in public, it’s definitely an instant yes.”

It was a fun project to work on – “It reminded me of going to art school. I have to hang out with a bunch of artists all day and paint” he said – and Gergley thinks that could lead to future projects.

“There are many people who make art” he said. “Having a staple in a local public place, that says you do, it’s not just a hobby. I have a real paid job with a big company that contacted me to paint their walls, so I think that speaks for itself.

Condado and Noodlefun are certainly not the first to use local art. Many restaurants have wall spaces where selected artists can display and sell their work. Shuttic said putting his work at Saratoga’s restaurant in downtown Warren several years ago allowed him to reach a clientele that wouldn’t see his work online or at an art show.

“I haven’t sold many of these pieces, but I can’t tell you how many have contacted me to buy other things,” Shutic said. “I hit a completely different audience.”


Shuttic is the first space artist spinning at Noodlefun, 176 N. Park Ave. And a piece already sold – to restaurant owner Nate Barker, who made it a permanent part of the restaurant’s decor.

“When James put this one together, I thought it was a perfect fit,” said Barker. “I said, ‘Don’t even put a price tag on that one, it stays.

Barker and his wife, Carissa, have also made local art a permanent part of the restaurant by having local artists paint many of the dining tables inside.

“We reduced them to nothing”, he said. “My wife put a few coats of primer on it, and we hand-delivered it to the artists.”

Visitors can also contribute to the visual aesthetic with a large chalk wall next to the open kitchen.

“Every two weeks we will delete it and start cleaning with new messages”, he said. “Kids love it. The further down you go, the more childish the art becomes.

These elements reflect the philosophy of the restaurant.

“When I thought of what this place was going to be – Noodlefun – I wanted to sum up really good noodles and lots of fun”, said Barker. “When I think fun, I think color, I think art.”

And the motivation behind working with local talent isn’t entirely altruistic.

“The 5% capitalist side is the artists who promote the restaurant”, he said. “They say, ‘Check my stuff. It’s on the wall’ or ‘I made this table.’ It also helps. It was right in my doghouse. I knew they were going to be my clients. Why not let them be part of it in another way? »

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