New patio for Bodega on Coventry

Bodega on Coventry isn’t a topless bar. It’s a tapas bar.

“At first, no one even knew what tapas were,” said head chef and owner Said Ouaddaadaa. “Actually, when we were saying tapas, everyone was thinking ‘oh, they’re opening a topless bar!’ We brought in something that Coventry didn’t have.”

Ouaddaadaa, who has been in the restaurant business for 23 years, grew up in Coventry and always wanted to open a restaurant on the street.

“Four and a half years ago, my dream came true and I opened up. It took me a year to build Bodega. It was just four walls, and that was it. I had nothing to work with,” he joked. “I’ve been doing this for years so I knew what I was getting myself into. I didn’t come here to shut down, I came here to get better and grow bigger.”

Ouaddaadaa, who also owned Menu 6 in Larchmere, said some people thought he was crazy for opening on Coventry, and that he would forget about his other clients.

“I’ve built up clientele over the years," he said. "Without my regulars, I probably wouldn’t exist. When I moved to Coventry, everyone thought I was catering to the Coventry crowd and the sports bars, but I had my own plan, and my clientele followed me."

To cater to those who enjoy being outdoors in the summer, Bodega recently added a new patio.

“I do really well in the winter, but in the summer, my business dropped without a patio,” Ouaddaadaa said. “I knew I needed it, but I had to go through the city first. It was quite a ride, but we finally got it open, and business picked up about 25 percent.”

Ouaddaadaa is not only the owner and head chef, he is also general manager and (sometimes) disc jockey.

“It’s a one-owner operation, and that way you know things are going to work out the way you want them to,” he said. “I’m here, I’m hands on and I run my own place. I put in a lot of hours, 15 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s challenging, but at the same time, you know things are getting taken care of.”

Bodega offers happy hour Monday through Friday, and Tuesday Tapas, where tapas are 50 percent off. The bar offers more than 50 varieties of martinis.

“We also have live music and we support local musicians and bands. It’s a nice vibe that many of our customers enjoy,” he said. “We’re working on opening an oyster bar. We have it every Thursday for now, and we’re working to build a permanent one.”

“I absolutely love running my own business and wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” Ouaddaadaa said. “That’s why I work so many hours—I enjoy what I do. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re not going to spend 15 hours a day doing it. It’s something that I love.”

Yelena Tischenko

Yelena Tischenko is a senior majoring in magazine journalism at Kent State University and a Heights Observer intern.

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Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 8:31 AM, 09.03.2012