Schoolhouse Reimagined

Ada welcomes new epicurean eatery in landmark building
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OBriens Schoolhouse will open in Ada on July 1, 2024. Courtesy photo.

Fans of O’Briens Deli will soon have a new spot to enjoy their favorite sandwiches as O’Briens Schoolhouse prepares to open its doors on July 1, 2024. Located in the historic Little Red Schoolhouse in Ada Village, this new establishment promises to blend history with beloved culinary delights.

The Little Red Schoolhouse, a fixture in Ada since the mid-1800s, has seen various transformations from a one-room schoolhouse to an ice cream parlor, flower shop, and most recently, a general store. For over 150 years, it has remained a cherished part of the community. Now, it will host the newest venture from TJ O’Brien, who continues to operate his successful East Paris Ave. deli.

TJ O’Brien. Courtesy photo.

O’Briens Schoolhouse will feature a menu reminiscent of O’Briens Deli, offering hot and cold sandwiches, alongside favorites from the former Ada Village General Store, including freshly scooped ice cream and candy. Unique to this schoolhouse, patrons will also find a full liquor license, with signature cocktails, wine, and a rotating selection of local beers on tap.

“We’re thrilled to bring the O’Briens name back to Ada,” said restaurant owner TJ O’Brien. “Ada General Store has been a staple on River Street and having the opportunity to expand and grow the customer base as O’Brien’s Schoolhouse is really exciting.” His decision to open this new location is rooted in his family’s legacy. O’Briens Market and Deli, known for its meats, wine selection, and famous burger Wednesdays, was a staple in the area for over three decades. Since its closure in 2017, there has been a strong demand for similar offerings, leading to the establishment of O’Briens Deli and Burgers on East Paris Ave.

“After analyzing local shoppers’ needs and current Ada Village General Store offerings, we determined the best way to meet the community’s needs was to expand the food items available,” said Sam Nichols, director of business operations, Baton Collective. “We knew right away we wanted to partner with a well-known name in the community that could deliver quality product.”

In addition to its famous sandwiches, O’Briens Schoolhouse will revive the tradition of selling ice cream and candy, drawing on the nostalgic appeal of the Ada Village General Store. The store’s legacy, coupled with the historic charm of the Little Red Schoolhouse, promises a unique and inviting experience.

The revitalization of the Little Red Schoolhouse began in 2017 when Cheri DeVos purchased the building, aiming to transform it into the Ada Village General Store. The renovation process, which included moving the building off-site for riverfront park development, culminated in the schoolhouse becoming a beloved local spot.

“I’m happy that I was able to help Ada Village retain some of the important quaint character we all know and love about the Little Red Schoolhouse,” said building owner Cheri DeVos. “I’m looking forward to seeing the community enjoy the next chapter of the space as O’Briens Schoolhouse.”

Following the store’s closure in November 2023, DeVos has made further enhancements to the space. Additions include a large, covered patio facing the river, outdoor seating for 50, expanded indoor seating for 18, and a fully equipped kitchen, all designed to support the success of O’Briens Schoolhouse.

With its grand opening, O’Briens Schoolhouse will continue the legacy of the Little Red Schoolhouse, offering a mix of history, community charm, and delicious food and drink options.

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