By Kevin Greer, Lakeside Communications Manager
The Murphy family rents the “Green Peace” cottage in Lakeside for a week or two every summer. At least three members of the family will now be visiting a little more often.
Robert Murphy, his daughter Rachel Chwalik and son-in-law Andrew Chwalik are the new owners of the Lakeside Laundromat (320 W Second St.) and Bluebird Café (next to the Pavilion). Andrew is very enthusiastic to get started on their new venture.
“Lakeside is a fun spot that we’ve been going to for years, and we’re excited to be even more involved in the community,” Andrew said. “I think we’ll be a great team with all of our different mindsets.”
Andrew and Rachel met at Walsh University in North Canton. Both earned bachelor’s degrees, Rachel in theology and Andrew in marketing. Andrew added a master’s degree from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. They were in the same friend group during college and stayed in touch after graduation. Then something happened one day that changed everything.
“Out of nowhere Rachel kissed me, and now we’re married,” Andrew said. “That’s a story I always love to tell.”
This won’t be the couple’s first time owning a business. They started Topped, a sandwich and ice cream shop in Marion.
“It had a similar vibe to Bluebird,” Andrew said. “That experience was so fun.”
Andrew and Rachel eventually sold their part of the business just before the pandemic hit. Andrew started his own marketing agency, Twillful, just down the road from Marion in his hometown of Delaware, where the couple lives now. They wanted to get back to owning a business, and Robert was looking for ideas as he neared retirement.
Robert is a piano technician at Oberlin College and tunes and fixes older pianos as his own business on the side. During their last summer visit, Robert joked with his family that his future plans included buying a house and owning the Laundromat in Lakeside. While walking along Second Street, Robert and Rachel saw the sign they weren’t expecting.
“When they walked past the Laundromat, Rachel was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Dad, look at this,’ because there was a ‘For Sale’ sign on the door,” Andrew said. “We had no idea it was for sale. It was 100% serendipitous.”
They wasted no time making the phone call inquiring about the business. During the conversation, the Murphy family found out Bluebird Café was also for sale. They made an offer on both and a deal was quickly reached.
Andrew said there will be some “tweaks” to Bluebird Café, but no major changes. The name will stay the same and the menu will be similar, with added grab and go options.
“We’ll still have salads and paninis,” Andrew said. “We want people hanging out on the dock or at the Splash Park to come in and grab a quick snack or drink.”
Andrew started coming to the community with the Murphys when he was dating Rachel and always looks forward to coming back every year. The family has met several Lakesiders, who they now consider great friends, and can’t wait to meet more through their businesses.
When asked what makes Lakeside special, Andrew didn’t have to think about it.
“It’s the people,” Andrew said. “Now, we’re immersing ourselves in the community and helping to bring other elements to that community. We’re just so excited because that’s what inspired us to really be a part of it (in Lakeside).”