Little City Grill in Kent shut down abruptly after 10 years

Little City Grill announced its closure in a Facebook post April 10, 2023.

Would-be diners at Kent’s Little City Grill got an unexpected surprise earlier this week. Instead of an opened door, they saw a small sign taped to it that read:

“Effective April 10, 2023, we are permanently closed. Thank you for 10 wonderful years! We are so grateful for your support. Inquiries: email [email protected].”

“Bert” is Bert Bellinson. Chris Smeiles, who owns the building, said Bellinson has owned Little City Grill for the past decade, renting the space from him. The diner at 802 N. Mantua St. opened in September 2013.

“Bert and I have had some discussions. It was getting more and more difficult for him to make it, so he made the decision to close it down and do something else,” Smeiles said April 11 as he busied himself transporting frozen food from Little City Grill’s freezers to Kent Social Services.

Bellinson could not be reached for comment.

A post on Little City Grill’s Facebook page thanks the restaurant’s customers for helping them “build a real community in our little corner of Kent.”

“We will all go on to new adventures, and keep our friendships intact,” they said. “Look for all of our people throughout the community, and support them as they move forward. It is not an ending for any of us, just a new chapter.”

The post is signed “Bert and Robin” and refers to Robin Bellinson, a writing instructor at Kent State. Her LinkedIn profile states that she was co-owner of Little City Grill and that Bert ran the “day to day with great ideas and energy” while she worked behind the scenes on administration and marketing.

Smeiles said he intends to either sell the building or find a new tenant. A former Portage County commissioner turned Realtor, Smeiles said he has already shown the property to several prospective buyers, at least some of whom have expressed interest in opening a new restaurant in the building.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.