Kenmore Boulevard is home to a new sit-down and carryout restaurant for hungry lunch and dinner-goers. Lil’ Bit Cafe serves up a variety of delicacies, from unique sandwiches to salads and more at the corner of Kenmore Boulevard and 15th St.
No matter what your taste, Lil’ Bit’s menu is sure to satisfy. Signature dishes include the Phillbilly Cheesesteak, Falafel Waffle and Grilled Portabella Sammy: they’re all the creation of Chef Micah Townsend, a 24-year kitchen veteran, lifelong Kenmore resident, and inventor of your favorite pop culture-themed sandwiches at a well known Akron deli and bar.
“Kenmore is home, and one thing the Boulevard has lacked for a while has been a place to sit down and grab dinner,” Townsend said. “I love cooking and I wanted to put my passion back into my neighborhood.”
But Townsend isn’t the only Kenmore-friendly face behind the counter. Lil’ Bit is a collaboration between Townsend, Boulevard property owner Todd Ederer and Kenmore-native pastry chef Jennifer Herrick, who also serves as the lead instructor for the JOBS culinary training program.
“We call the place Lil’ Bit Cafe not only because the building is a bit small, our menu is a lil’ bit of this and a lil’ bit of that,” Townsend explained. He expects the menu to grow over time to become a one-of-a-kind operation in the Akron area.
Another unique aspect of the cafe: Herrick’s JOBS trainees are a part of Lil’ Bit’s day to day operations. The JOBS program offers young mothers culinary skills, time and money management, and one-on-one mentorship. Now, Lil’ Bit Cafe provides them with hands-on training in food service operations, which sets JOBS trainees apart.
In 2018, Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance was awarded a $150,000 Caresource Foundation grant to fund the culinary training program and to provide employment subsidies that encourage local restaurants to hire JOBS trainees.
According to Ederer, these incentives combined with the local demand for sit-down restaurants are what ultimately convinced this developer to try his hand in the restaurant business. A 2019 Retail Revitalization Strategy by KM Date Community Planning uncovered demand for up to five additional food-related businesses on Kenmore Boulevard, including a coffee shop and a fast-casual restaurant like Lil’ Bit Cafe. The lack of Boulevard options meant that residents and their food dollars that could be spent within the district were leaving the neighborhood along their jobs.
“Through this study we see opportunity on The Boulevard,” Ederer said. “We are optimistic Lil’ Bit Cafe will help keep people, jobs, and dollars circulating within the community.”
Lil’ Bit Cafe is open at 992 Kenmore Blvd. Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. with expanded hours on certain nights. For info, catering and to-go orders, call 234-718-2233.