Imperial Renovations & Designs is behind the interiors of some of Short North and the Arena District’s most popular bars and restaurants. It’s a departure from the new home construction in Dublin that was the company’s bread and butter when Jeff Parenteau started the business in the early 90s. But with some strategic pivots and a keen eye on the market, the renovation specialists are poised to offer more than just their handiwork, but an understanding that only comes with having been through the business building process themselves.
Dublin born and bred, Parenteau ramped up a successful new build business until the housing slump hit. Instead of starting from the ground up, people were staying in their current homes, steering Imperial in the direction of renovations.
About 10 years ago, the company started to diversify its portfolio, adding hotel renovation and redesign. Seven years ago marked the foray into restaurants and bars, which is now the core of Imperial’s business. It was also the beginning of the company’s work with restaurateur and bar creator Chris Corso.
Starting with Cantina, Imperial would move on down the Arena District block, working on Park Street Saloon and Park Street Patio. They would follow Corso over to the Short North, doing the build out for Pint House and eventually Forno. Imperial also took their talents to Powell for Mia Cucina. Then came the big one.
“We found an opportunity that was too good to pass up,” says Greg Bertison, Imperial’s business development specialist.
Bertison brought his experience as a commercial real estate broker to the table, and along with it a lead on The Bogey Inn in Dublin. That Bogey Inn – the only bar that seems to matter during the Memorial Tournament. Bertison had the real estate experience, Parenteau the renovation, and together they set up an investment group, raised the capital and relaunched the famed spot as the Bogey Bar & Grill.
They went through the process so many of their clients do – creating the business plan, making it come to life, being in the trenches with all the day-to-day that comes with owning a bar and restaurant.
“Instead of just hiring a construction company to do something, our backgrounds are such that I think we have a better understanding of how to make things work for people,” Bertison says. “We’re finding that we’re becoming more of a consultant.”
Imperial offers a more comprehensive team to take a project from point A to point B. Parenteau is the creative brains of the operation. If a client comes up with an idea, he finds a way to make it happen. Bertison knows how to work with the landlords and the tenants. He’s focused on the customer service side and building new business.
While residential still makes up about a quarter of their work, it’s full steam ahead in restaurant/bar and retail/office spaces for Imperial. The business is after the Fornos and the Pint Houses of Columbus, wanting the local, non-cookie cutter client.
If it’s a client’s first restaurant, they can help with the nitty-gritty – the business plans, the money requirements, zoning, etc. That second or third restaurant client allows Imperial to flex its creativity.
Their design aesthetic has also evolved from the days of new build homes and Muirfield renovations.
“We do have a passion for taking old buildings and making really neat products out of them,” Bertison says. “We take spaces that are complete eyesores…but to take it from that point to, really, a showplace is so much more fun.”
The goal is to keep the integrity of many of the old buildings that make up Short North’s stock, uncovering unique features and making them shine.
“You never really know the final design until it happens,” Bertison says. As far as a direction goes, though, “The industrial look is still very hot.”
Open space, concrete floors, interesting use of materials. He credits the rise of so many home and DIY shows that take the old farmhouse and turn it into a really interesting space. Their process is much the same. Take a historic building and turn it into a hip place to go.
For more information, visit imperialrenovation.com.