The grand second-floor space in the Heights Rockefeller Building has housed many things during its 80-year run, including John D. Junior's real estate offices and a handful of banks. More recently, the stately Cleveland Heights chamber has been used exclusively for special events and weddings (including that of yours truly). Early next year it will be home to its first restaurant, as Heights resident Michael Adams opens Rockefeller's (2479 Lee Blvd.), a seasonal American bistro.
Upon seeing the building — a French Norman mansion on the National Register of Historic Places — Adams knew the choice was a "slam dunk," as he says. "The architectural elements are pristine. The stonework, archways, fireplace ..." Add to that hand-painted, 20-foot ceilings, oak-beam rafters, iron chandeliers, leaded-glass windows, and slag-glass lamps, and you get some small sense of the room's grandeur. Apart from the expected kitchen upgrades, the space required only minor touch-ups. But at 4,700 square feet, this is no small potatoes.
"We can't fill that entire space with white-tablecloth dining," Adams says. Half the room will be devoted to the bar and lounge area, featuring couches, chairs, and low-slung tables. The other half will accommodate 80 or so guests at traditional tabletops. As for the food, Adams says: "Obviously, we can't serve chicken wings, which would be a sea change from the splendor of the room. But we also will not be exorbitantly priced."
The executive chef is Jill Vedaa, a veteran of Lola, Flying Fig, and Saucy Bistro.
The good folks behind The Big Egg (5107 Detroit Ave., 216-281-1600), which opened in Ohio City just shy of two years ago, are already planning an expansion. As early as mid-December, East Siders may be able to get a taste of the Big Egg without heading west. Owner Jimmy Lababidi says the eatery will open in the historic Ruthie & Moe's Diner at East 40th and Prospect, most recently home to the now-shuttered Somer's Diner.
Commuters and locals can look forward to breakfast and lunch service Monday through Friday. Lababidi says the former tenants removed absolutely everything, right down to the fryers and forks; rebuilding the interior is the first item on his to-do list.
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