| ISAAC BENDELE
CRYSTAL PARK IS bringing something special to the old Wonder Bread building on Fourth Street. Cray Eatery & Drinkery is going in at the Italian village hot-spot, and many residents can’t stop talking about it. The space has a great feel, just like the old Wonder Bread factory, and Park’s venture in the New Year is the story of following her passion.
Park comes from Waverly in southern Ohio. From modest beginnings and a large family, she took a chance and moved to Columbus looking for broader employment and education opportunities. Stumbling into a job at Huntington at age 19, she joined the corporate environment and quickly advanced. She’s learned about the banking industry and was always made to feel comfortable being herself. While complementing Huntington on their support of her schooling and development, Park also says she simply wasn’t meant to stay there forever. She hopes to take much of what she learned from her former boss about balancing strong expectations with approachability and support and apply that in her own leadership style as she heads in this new direction.
Park slowly came to the decision it was time to make the leap into being a small business owner. “You can only sit at a computer for so long, and after 12 years...I’m done.”
After deciding to move forward with her idea, things soon started to get hectic. “I was working at Huntington and setting up appointments after 5p.m., and I didn’t have time for much other than working. I finally decided it was time to make a change.”
An avid traveler, Park wanted to visit some destinations before things go into full swing in mid-February. Park went to Denver in December to hit the slopes and research the bar and restaurant scene. She will be heading to Florida to visit her mom and, as a final treat, traveling to Bali soon.
Park’s past travels have helped her stock her bar at Cray. “When I visited Cambodia, there was this amazing bar with crazy infused liquor shots,” she said. The choices on the bar chalkboard piqued her curiosity. She’s started infusing liquors at home and figuring how long to infuse flavors into everything from vodka to bourbon. Her work infusing liquors at home will come in handy when Cray opens, as the drink menu will offer many options for infused liquors. Park mentioned Gummy bear vodka, Werther’s Original vodka, and Slim Jim bourbon as some of her favorite flavors that may make it on to the bar’s list of infused options.
Park’s love of creating drinks started when she began bartending at Wall Street Night Club as a favor to help out a friend. It turned into something she really enjoyed.
Tending bar brought the joy of interacting with people back into the forefront. “I love making friends and building my own clientele. The routine I was in had me excited for working on the weekends at Wall Street.” Making many friends quickly and thriving on the energy of others around her she feels very at home behind the bar. She is excited to feel the same way in her new restaurant.
This year is bound to be an interesting one for Park. Through her hard work, research and preparation, plus the booming growth of Italian Village, Cray Eatery & Drinkery and Crystal Park, are poised for success.