Downtown Middletown restaurant changing owners, name and menu

The owner of a downtown Middletown restaurant called the change in ownership and name “a win for everybody.”

Gracie’s, owned and operated by Ami Vitori, will close at the end of the month, then reopen Jan. 7, 2022 as Mz. Jade’s Soul Food, owned by Naiyozcsia King.

King has operated a catering business for seven years in Middletown and works out the former Murphy’s Landing in downtown.

Vitori, a Middletown council member who didn’t seek re-election in November, said she wants to “downsize” her businesses in 2022 and dedicate more time to her family, husband Kevin and their three young children.

“I tried and I put in the time, energy and money,” Vitori said. “But this is the best decision for my family, the city and downtown.”

Vitori opened Gracie’s, named after her grandmother, in June 2017. She said it was a “challenge” staying in business during the coronavirus pandemic when Gov. Mike DeWine closed restaurants and bars for three months.

When Vitori contemplated closing Gracie’s she remembered that King was looking for a location to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. The two business owners decided that Mz. Jade’s would rent Gracie’s, 1131 Central Ave. inside Torchlight Pass, where there is a full kitchen and bar, a 65-seat dining area, a 70-seat patio and 60-seat banquet room in the lower level.

King said she was “beyond excited” and “didn’t have the correct words” to describe her emotions.

“This is what my customers, the city and citizens want,” she said.

Gracie’s staff of about 15 will remain and join the eight who work for Mz. Jade’s. King said she’s recruiting additional employees.

Mz. Jade’s menu will remain the same with daily specials and she plans to keep some of Gracie’s most popular items, including crispy pimiento cheese balls, charred brussels and meatloaf.

King plans of staying in downtown Middletown for years. She’s done moving.

“My forever home,” she said. “This is everything I ever wanted. I’m ready.”

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