Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mad Greek Announces Last Day of Service

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Last month we broke the news that Mad Greek restaurant (2466 Fairmount Blvd., 216-421-3333, would be closing its doors after a remarkable 40-year run. The popular spot at the top of Cedar Hill in Cleveland Heights first opened its doors (down the street) in 1976. Now we have learned that the last day for fans to enjoy a meal at the Greek-Indian eatery will be Sunday, September 4.

In Mad Greek’s wake, Barrio Tacos will begin readying the space for its fourth full-service location (fifth if you count Progressive Field). On the list of to-dos is expanding the bar, opening up the dining room and adding a rear garage door to unite the back patio with the interior. Mad Greek’s twin garage doors up front will stay, naturally.

“Once we get in there we can do the work in 30 to 60 days,” says Barrio owner Sean Fairbairn. “We’re getting pretty good at doing these things.”

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Jeffrey Dahmer Movie Filming in Cleveland as We Speak

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 10:21 AM

My Friend Dahmer, a film based on a book of the same name by local-legend cartoonist Derf Backderf, has been shooting, and continues to shoot, all over Northeast Ohio.

Unlike the 2002 Jeremy Renner vehicle Dahmer, a more traditional biopic, My Friend Dahmer focuses on the infamous serial killer's Ohio high school years. It's "an intoxicating blend of a coming-of-age tale with the borrowed hook of a serial killer narrative," if you ask the summary wizards at IMDb

Via the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, the film stars Vincent Kartheiser ("Mad Men"), Anne Heche ("Six Days Seven Nights") and as Dahmer himself, Ross Lynch ("Muppets Most Wanted"). Playing Derf is the elegantly coiffed Alex Wolff, brother of The Fault in our Stars' / Paper Towns' Nat Wolff.

It's written and directed by Marc Meyers, something of an unknown quantity in the mainstream, who's done two festival-circuit indies and a handful of shorts prior to this.  

"More and more films are shooting in greater Cleveland," said Film Commission President Ivan Schwarz, in a press release. "We attribute that not only to our amazing variety of locations and our local production professionals, but to the community spirit that productions experience when they arrive.
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Twelve Acts to Play at Second Annual Hingetown Hoedown

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 10:07 AM

Self-proclaimed as “Cleveland’s first and only free folk and bluegrass music festival,” the second annual Hingetown Hoedown returns to the intersection of West 29th Street and Detroit Ave. on Sept. 10. The event features 12 acts with a bluegrass, folk, Americana, roots and string band sound. There will be food trucks, vendors, craft beer from Great Lakes Brewery and family-friendly activities. 

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Rock Hall to Celebrate 21st Birthday With a Big Bash

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 8:26 AM

  • Courtesy of the Rock Hall
Since opening nearly 21 years ago, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has welcomed 10 million visitors and driven an estimated $2 billion into the local economy. To celebrate its 21st birthday, the Rock Hall has just announced it'll host a series of events.

First, it will host the 4th annual Believe in CLE yoga party at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2. The free event includes a 60-minute Vinyasa yoga practice followed by a post-practice party featuring Fresh DJ Cosimo Maximo. There will also be drinks, appetizers and dancing in the Rock Hall’s new beer garden.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

'Southside With You' Casts Chicago's Mean Streets in a Different Light

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 5:39 PM

When members of the national media turn their attention to Chicago’s Southside, it’s often to direct our attention to a shooting or some other tragedy. That section of the Windy City rarely appears in positive light.

Southside With You
, which opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre, attempts to cast Chicago’s Southside in a positive light. While the film succeeds on that count (the images of various neighborhood landmarks make the place look like a mini-Brooklyn), its sentimental storyline fails to catch fire.

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Cleveland is First US Market for Reso, Latest Challenger to OpenTable

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 2:34 PM

During the three years since he opened Cork & Cleaver, chef and owner Brian Okin has managed reservations the old-fashioned way: by answering phone calls and emails from customers and jotting the information down in “the book.” But a few months ago he began using Reso, a new online reservation management system that just entered the Cleveland market. In fact, Okin was the company’s first American account.

“Within a month, more than 50 percent of my reservations were coming in through my website,” Okin says, referring to the Reso widget that lives on his restaurant website. “It has all the same functions as OpenTable, like managing your dining room and communicating with customers, but they only charge a flat monthly fee.”

Okin might not have used OpenTable at Cork & Cleaver or his newer restaurant, Graffiti, but he did use the reservation system at his previous restaurant, Verve. As was the case with many restaurant owners, it was a one-sided relationship that left a pretty sour taste in his mouth.

“It was terrible,” are his exact words.

For almost 20 years, OpenTable has been the de facto tool for making online restaurant reservations. Each month, 19 million diners reserve spots at one of 37,000 restaurants around the globe. That reach and brand awareness lands small, medium and large restaurants in front of countless potential new customers. But it does so at a hefty price.

“People don’t understand the fees that are associated with the system,” explains Doug Katz, who recently swapped Fire Food and Drink’s OpenTable system for Reso after learning about it. “It’s like credit card fees, but so much more extreme. The fees are really astronomical for the value they currently are giving you.”

Katz says that he was paying up to $25,000 per year to OpenTable in the form of equipment rentals, monthly fees and per-diner costs of $1 and up. And even those supposed marketing perks that tout Katz’ Eastside eatery on OpenTable’s Cleveland portal are not always what they are cracked up to be, he says.

“Your restaurant might not even appear to people looking for a table in a certain region if you are not in that region, if you happen to be offline, or if you’re booked up,” Katz states.

Katz agrees that OpenTable might be a tough habit to break for restaurants that might have a stronger appeal to those living outside the local market. Fire, he says, lives and dies on a pretty consistent customer base who know where and when they want to dine. Having them fill out a slightly different reservation system to do so is not a significant hurdle.

“I think the main clientele who use OpenTable are travelers,” says Katz. “If you’re going out of town you often start with OpenTable to check all the best restaurants. But unfortunately now, you see a lot more chain restaurants and others that can afford a system like OpenTable. In a way, the best restaurants aren’t always on OpenTable because they can’t spend the money or don’t want to spend the money.”

Over the years, a number of startups have challenged OpenTable at its own game, hoping to break the company’s stranglehold on the market. Not many, it seems, get very far; they either fold, remain niche or irrelevant, or get gobbled up by OpenTable. Reso is one of the latest to enter the cutthroat restaurant reservation management game, and the company has selected Cleveland as its first U.S. market.

“Cleveland has a strong independent restaurant scene, and it has been getting more and more attention nationally for its chefs and great restaurants,” explains Tyler Davis, VP of Operations for Reso. “We thought it was strong market.”

While Reso might be new to the United States, the company has been providing a cloud-based restaurant management tool for years in its home market of Canada, where 1,000s of restaurant owners coast to coast utilize its software to manage their booking and seating. They chose Cleveland as the place to roll out their new consumer-facing website and app that will seamlessly pair with that system.

“We really invested in Cleveland because we feel like we can build and grow the local market instead of doing a scattered approach where we can be everywhere but be nowhere at the same time,” Davis says.

To that end, Reso hired Don Apel to manage, maintain and grow the Cleveland market. For years, Apel has worked in some of Cleveland’s finest restaurants, most recently as GM of Flour. Just weeks into their launch, Reso has inked deals with about a dozen area restaurants. That number is expected to double very soon. Most mention the predictable fees and ease of use as enticements to switch.

“At the end of the day, the restaurant is the attraction,’ Davis says. “We want to make booking as easy and seamless and as enjoyable an experience as possible. At the end of the day, people are not suffering through a restaurant meal for the joy of filling in their name and number.”

It’s still early in the going for Katz, who signed on just a week ago, but he’s cautiously optimistic.

“It’s a risk,” he admits. “I think people are scared because OpenTable is such a big fish. But personally, I felt I needed to make a stand and do it. I felt confident enough that we’re serving a great product and have a great customer base to support us.”

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Local Garage Rockers Archie & the Bunkers Release New EP

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 2:06 PM

A local garage rock group which consists of teenage brothers Emmett and Cullen O'Connor on keys and vocals, Archie and the Bunkers have made some serious headway since forming in 2013.

The two guys initially began recording music in their basement and self-produced their first two EPs (Comrade X and Trade Winds). Last year, the group issued its first full-length album on the UK-based Dirty Water Records. The guys recorded the album's 12 songs at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit with famed producer/engineer Jim Diamond.

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