"This is my last shot," says chef Brian Okin, only half-jokingly. "All kidding aside, if this doesn't work, I'm going to stock the shelves at Giant Eagle."
Admittedly, Okin has had a rocky few years as a chef, jumping from his own restaurant Verve to Fountain in Moreland Hills to Luxe in Detroit Shoreway. His last truly successful restaurant was Benvenuti in Broadview Heights.
And that's precisely where he's heading to next. Only this time, he and partner Adam Bostwick will operate Cork and Cleaver (8130 Broadview Road), a Modern American restaurant.
"I left a successful restaurant to do Verve," Okin explains. "We did well there; we made money. But you can only do so well with 35 seats."
After his departure, the incoming operators sunk cash into the space, expanding the restaurant and adding a bar. It now can accommodate 75 guests. Though it's been vacant for two years, the space needs only some cleaning and cosmetic touches — fresh paint, new carpet. Okin says they should be up and running by early April.
As for the food, Okin says he just wants to cook what suits him.
"I'm not going to go crazy and serve off-the-wall stuff like lamb heart, but based on my experience the people who live out there want this food," he says. "And they won't have to go into the city to get it. E. Fourth Street, Ohio City, Tremont… Who do you think is eating at all these places? People are coming in from the suburbs to eat there."
Diners will definitely see some "best of" dishes from Okin's time at Verve and Bostwick's time at Melange, but expect plenty of surprises as well. Dishes will top out at around $20.
"Adam is a little bit younger than me and he's a bit more eclectic with is food. My food tends to have more classical elements to it. You blend those together and I think you end up with some interesting stuff."
What it won't be is another Italian restaurant, says Okin.
"There are six Italian restaurants out there!"