Banking on Windsor: Plans for restaurant in former Walkerville CIBC building

Vito Maggio has big plans for the former CIBC building that's towered over the corner of Devonshire Road and Assumption Street since the 1890s.

Vito Maggio wants to create the type of restaurant that will keep diners in Windsor

Restaurateur Vito Maggio has purchased the former CIBC bank building in Walkerville, a structure that has towered over the area since the 1890's. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)

Vito Maggio is banking on his latest Walkerville investment to lock down diners in Windsor.

The restaurateur purchased the former CIBC building that's towered over the corner of Devonshire Road and Assumption Street since the 1890s.

"You can duplicate something, but this is what you call original," he said, hauling open the almost three-and-a-half metre front doors.

New owner Vito Maggio opens up the large front doors of the former CIBC building. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)

Maggio grew up in the neighbourhood and passed the building's sturdy columns and decorative facade almost every day for years. He may own properties peppered throughout Walkerville, but said this purchase was special.

"To own this building is exciting for me," he said. "Every time I drive by it, every time I come here, I mean, if I wanted one building in Old Walkerville this was it."

Walkerville publisher Chris Edwards has studied the neighbourhood and said there's a reason the "magnificent structure" looks so solid.

"In 1907 there was a lot of up and down … in the market," he said. "So when they built banks they wanted them to show strength and stability so that's why you see these giant pillars in the front."

Edwards added he was pleased it had been purchased and can't wait to see how it will "animate" the area.

"The thing was built to last a thousand years, I swear," he said. "We think the neighbourhood just keeps getting better and better."

Maggio is still tight-lipped about his exact plans, but said his visions includes fine food and drinks.

"I'm thinking a very long bar, that could fit 60 to 70 people," he said, while walking through the cavernous lobby. With one hand pointing to the thick steel door of a vault, he started placing imaginary tables and chairs.

The palatial front pillars of the former bank will greet diners at Maggio's new restaurant. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)

"You can have a private little room in here with 10 to 12 people," he explained, knocking on the steel walls to showcase their strength. "Wine, oysters, private wine tastings ... a lot of things are already going in my mind as we continue this new adventure."

One feature his heart is set on is a rooftop patio that would take advantage of the bank's unique Walkerville vantage point and views of the Detroit River.

Taking in the view fine, but Maggio is hoping to transform the bank into the kind of place that keeps Windsorites from following their palates across it.

"I want to create somehing where you don't have to go to Detroit, you can stick around this area and have something that a lot of people are looking for."

"That's going to be a sitting room in there too," Maggio said about the bank's former vault. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)