The Brown Derby in Middleburg Heights is prepping for a fabulous, fresh look with airy, contemporary updates coming this summer

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The wine selections at Brown Derby are designed to complement the menu. Owner George Abboud, a wine lover, offers wines from all over the world to enjoy in the restaurant or to take home. (Photography: Adrienne Rose)

By Patricia Nugent

In the spirit of reinvention, Brown Derby in Middleburg Heights is about to undergo a complete overhaul, from floor to ceiling, taking it from dark and dated to bright and modern.

Owner George Abboud says an integral part of the renovation is building “garage doors” into the front façade walls facing the parking lot to bring the outdoors in and lend a patio feeling to the bar and lounge area.

“I thought summer would be the perfect time to create a patio indoors since there isn’t room on the sidewalk,” he says. “It’s time for a fresh start. Our new space will be airy and contemporary, yet still welcoming and relaxed.”

A Brief History Lesson
Though there are so many new undertakings at Brown Derby, it’s important to appreciate the rich history that’s made it synonymous with top-shelf meals.

Founded in 1941 by Gus Girves across from Akron’s Goodyear Tire on East Market Street, the flagship restaurant quickly grew to more, building on a vision of innovation and maintaining the highest standards for steak and seafood, at the best prices in town.

“All of our meat is hand-selected, cut by an artisanal butcher and cooked on a wood fire to bring out its best,” says George. “We work with local vendors for the freshest ingredients.”

All the meat at Brown Derby is hand-selected, cut by an artisanal butcher and cooked on a wood fire to bring out its best.

Marvelous Menu
“While we may be known for our steaks, over the years our menu has evolved to appeal to many palates,” he says. “Our seafood dishes are very popular, and so are our famous side dishes, such as the Make It Loaded Idaho Baked Potato. For starters, people love our sesame-ginger calamari, stuffed mushrooms and the onion rings are ordered nonstop.”

Their signature cocktail is also impressive. The cassata cake martini is a frothy confection of whipped cream vodka, pineapple and strawberry puree and whipped cream on top.

Being in the middle of a bustling plaza of retail businesses, it’s no wonder the bar/restaurant has become a happy hour hot spot Monday through Friday, from 4-7 p.m. House well drinks are only $5 and house wines are $6.

Brown Derby's delectable hot fudge brownie sundae.

About the Wines
George admits he is a big wine lover, and he enjoys working with wine distributors to source and bring to the Derby wines from all over the world—Italy, France, Germany, Chile and Lebanon. They also feature wines from California, Oregon and Washington.

“Wine is the best complement to our food,” says George. “Many of our wine producers are family-owned, which is important to us.”

To appeal to different diners, they offer a range of prices, with many outstanding bottles around $20.

“We sell a lot of retail wine as well,” he says. “If you taste it and you love it, buy another bottle to take home. For those who are curious about wine or want to take their appreciation to the next level, we offer wine dinners, too.”

He enjoys sourcing difficult-to-find cult wines and offering them at fair prices, such as several bottles of 1998 Chateau Musar he just purchased.

George is so passionate about wine, he is adding “Wine Bar” to the outdoor sign and name when they are finished with the renovation.

Brown Derby is located at 18332 Bagley Road in Middleburg Heights. Call 440-826-9900 or visit for more information. Join the mailing list for updates on specials and promotions.

Categories: Westside Food & Dining