When Nick Raischel teamed up with longtime restaurateur Anthony Zappitelli to open Red Creek Bar and Grill in Painesville Township in 2016, in many ways it came full circle for him.
“I actually worked for Anthony 20 years ago at Red Hawk in Concord,” Raischel said. “I used to serve at the bar, cook and serve. I did almost everything there.
“I have always been in restaurants since I was a child. I was 15 when I first started doing the dishes and slowly worked my way up the ranks for a few years.
After that, Raischel decided he wanted to go out on his own and continue working in the restaurant business full time, moving south to start his own path.
“I went to the Art Institute of Atlanta culinary school,” he said. “I opened restaurants there in Florida and California.”
He was still drawn to northeastern Ohio, so Raischel decided to return home.
“There is no place like home, and I ended up coming back here,” he said. “I grew up in Chardon, which is not very far. I also met a girl in Atlanta and was able to convince her to move to Ohio with me. We moved here and I ran a restaurant chain for a while where we had six units.
Raischel says he’s always been someone looking for his own opportunity, and someone introduced him to what happened with Zappitelli in Painesville Township. The two got together and finally made things happen and created Red Creek, which will mark its sixth year in April.
The food at Red Creek is more of a comfort food style, with meal portions so large that customers often have more to take home.
“We make sure our customers are well fed, and there will always be more food in the house with the huge portions that we are handing out,” Raischel said with a laugh. “You won’t go hungry here and you will get a second meal out of it. “
When the pandemic initially shut down many local businesses in 2020, Red Creek was ready to place take out orders via online delivery. But when things picked up, the customers came back.
“We were stable and were fortunate to have some take out experience,” said Raischel. “We’re in a big part of the community and people keep coming back, with regulars stopping by several times a week. They kept calling and we kept taking their take out orders. When people were able to come back to the building, they came back and we didn’t seem to lose too much. We are very lucky for our guests, the people who take care of us.
“We are busy now,” he added. “We have a 100-person room in our basement that we use and that we haven’t been able to use in recent years. We had a few parties here which certainly helped the business with December and January seeing a bunch of Christmas parties.
It is not lost on Raischel that working for and with Anthony Zappitelli has given him a starting point to begin his career. It is a kindness that he has not forgotten.
“It’s a unique situation to have worked with Anthony for so many years,” said Raischel. “He’s a great human being and takes great care of everyone I know, takes care of me. We both have a passion for this industry and providing food, and just experience with guests. I am very lucky to have him as a partner.