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Hertel's Garage Cafe is couple's way forward after motorcycle crash

A Hertel Avenue auto repair shop will turn into a coffee shop, lounge and live-music venue to reflect the changing lives of its owners.

J & L Automotive, 1127 Hertel Ave., is becoming The Garage Café & Lounge.

Joe Riniolo has owned J & L Automotive for 25 years. A motorcycle accident left him bedridden for three months last year. He can walk and get around now, but can't be a mechanic any more, said his wife Lisa.

"We had to make the decision to close the business and retire a little early," she said. They also closed Peace of Mind Coffee Café in Akron, which she had operated for a year and a half.

"We loved our café, we loved the music we brought in, we loved what we were doing," Riniolo said. "So we decided: let's turn J & L Automotive into the Garage Café & Lounge."

The Riniolos hope to open in January.

The thoroughly remodeled interior tries to keep "as much character of the auto repair shop as possible," she said.

Breakfast will include Sicilian espresso, panini sandwiches, egg sandwiches, and such. Dinner will include sandwiches, soups and salads. There will be Italian cookies and pastries, part of a housemade menu with a "definite Italian slant."

There will be a stage and lounge seating, for live music scheduled every week. They've applied for a beer and wine license. A patio will be added out front for the summer.

"We've been in this community a long time. I have people knocking on my door just to come in and say 'hi' every day. We're excited to be here, and to stay in this community."

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