A Youngstown small business owner proved Thursday that with enough persistence, a closed business can reopen. After an online auction, Johnny Naples bought the Golden Dawn restaurant, with plans to reopen it and keep it in the family that started it.
Naples stood in the Logan Avenue parking lot of the Golden Dawn, unable to contain his enthusiasm after posting the winning bid to buy back the restaurant, which his grandparents started in 1934.
“I couldn’t catch my breath at first but I was really excited, really excited,” he said.
Naples must wait 30 days to get the keys, so we couldn’t get in on Thursday. But two weeks ago, the Golden Dawn opened for a pre-auction tour — and it looked exactly the same as the day it closed.
“We want to thank the people of the Mahoning Valley for the patronage of the last 85 years of the Golden Dawn restaurant,” Attorney John McNally said in 2017, announcing the business’ closing after what would later prove to be a family dispute.
“It was like, between the families, we had differences and probate court, we had to settle out in probate court,” Naples said. “Finally, they decided in probate court to put it on the auction block.”
The bidding for the Golden Dawn started at $50,000 with five people. Naples almost didn’t get his bid in because he didn’t realize he had to fill the cents box with two zeros or the bid wouldn’t take.
He said he was the last person to bid — paying $125,000 for the restaurant and $12,000 for three houses behind it, which he plans to renovate and rent out.
There will be a few renovations that could take four to six months.
“We have a couple additions to do to the dining room, the kitchen. We have to make the bathrooms accessible for handicap,” Naples said.
The flavor of the Golden Dawn will not change. It’ll be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The complete menu will remain and there will still be frosted schooners of beer. Every Golden Dawn staple will be coming back.
“The respect’s going to be there. The white shirts, the ties, the friendly faces, the happiness to see the people come in the door,” Naples said.
He hopes to have the Golden Dawn open in August or September — just in time for football season.