Side Dish 

Dennis Althar's Carnegie Library; Brett Babick and regional ethnic fare; and more

A Restaurateur Goes by the Book

Cleveland entrepreneur Dennis Althar is looking for one good chef to take over the recently renovated, circa-1904 Carnegie Library on East 55th and Broadway. Althar, who lives and works within a short stroll of the 10-sided brick and stone building, has spent several years and wheelbarrows full of money developing the space for use as a restaurant. Upgraded electric, gas, and water supplies are in place; dishwashing equipment, a dumbwaiter, coolers, hoods, and commercial stoves are set up; a liquor license has been obtained; and the 200-seat main dining room is filled with booths, tables, and chairs. A second large dining space, a 32-foot-tall rotunda, and a snug bar take up the rest of the first floor. Downstairs are the primary food prep area and a large auditorium; a few steps up is a small space that could be used as a meeting room, office, or apartment. Althar has renovated a number of other commercial and residential properties in the Broadway neighborhood and thinks that having a first-class restaurant is key to helping redevelop the historic area. While the building is bursting with potential, prospective restaurateurs are cautioned that opening with style still won't be cheap; however, Althar promises that the cost of the lease itself will be insignificant. For more info, visit Althar's website, http://libraryrestaurant.webjump.com/.

Celebrating Cleveland cuisine . . . If restaurateur Brett Babick has his way, regional ethnic fare -- like pierogi, brats, and goulash -- won't remain our dirty little secret much longer. His new restaurant, Barons of Cleveland, will be "a celebration of Cleveland cooking," with a loving embrace that extends to the area's history and culture. As of last week, Babick, his partners, and staff were still busily painting and reconfiguring the enormous space between Huron and Prospect (the former site of the Diamondback Brewery) that will be home to Barons, but he was hopeful the spot will be ready to open by mid-July. The culinary talent behind the "ethnic-eats-and-great-microbrewed-beer-cuisine" theme will be Chef Marty Schmidt, who put in time at Hudson's Inn at Turner's Mill and Ken Stewart's Grille in Akron, along with brewmaster Marc Anievas. Besides big portions of homey food, look for Barons to offer live music nightly, a playroom for kids, brewery tours, and movies.

Mutual exclusion . . . Chef Charlie Saccardi, who until a few weeks ago was corporate chef for the Hyde Park Group and deeply involved in the soon-to-open Blake's Grille in Chagrin Falls, is now working with caterer Marie Betts of Elan Catering. "It was a mutual decision that the Hyde Park people and I part company," Saccardi said recently, "although maybe it was a little more mutual on their side than on mine." Still, the talented chef, who was lured back to Ohio from Napa Valley last year by the Hyde Park owners, says he's happy to be in Greater Cleveland again, where his family resides and the cost of living doesn't make one consider the alternatives. Plus, he's cooking up ideas for another restaurant; something that will combine great food with high-intensity dining excitement . . . As for Blake's Grille, the gorgeous two-story seafood restaurant on the river looks set for a mid-July opening, with Patrick McNamara taking over as culinary top gun.

More by Elaine T. Cicora


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