Back in December we told you about Bacchanalia Gourmet Market (14717 Detroit Ave.), which will open in late spring or early summer in Lakewood. The project is being headed up by Manny Nieves, owner of Grady's Fine Wines in Rocky River. Well, that operation just received some high-powered partnership.
Joining Nieves as partner in the project is Scott Popovic, a Cleveland native and nationally recognized chef, who for the last eight years toured the globe as corporate chef for Certified Angus Beef brand. Before that, Popovic worked as chef at XO Prime Steaks, Fire and other fine restaurants.
"For the past eight years I have been on the road and teaching," Popovic says of the transition. "I'm really excited to be able to spend more time with my family, spend more time with my guests, and spend more time in Cleveland."
Most of all, he says, he's thrilled to get back in the kitchen, be creative, and partner with a like-minded F&B professional.
"I've talked about opening up my own place for years, and this is a great way to be able to partner with a good friend who knows the industry and can actually teach me a thing or two," says Popovic.
Popovic will head up the Tasting Lounge at Bacchanalia, the food-focused core of the 3,100-square-foot gourmet marketplace, where chef demos, cooking classes and tastings will be held on a regular basis.
"We don't want to call it a wine bar or a tapas bar because it's much more than that," says Nieves. "We'll do wine tastings and beer tastings, but also cheese and charcuterie tastings — anything delicious worth tasting. It's an experience of food for people that want to learn more but not be bored by watching about it on TV."
Popovic already has called upon his vast network of celebrity chef pals to participate in demos and book signings, he says. "I'm 36 years old, and 17 of those years I spent working with a lot of great, talented chefs who have become my friends."
Nieves is aiming for nothing short of the largest cheese and charcuterie selection on the West Side. But more than just selection; he's backing up that product with knowledge and experience. "I know all of these products intimately, and I know what wines, cheeses and charcuterie pair well together," says Nieves.
Bacchanalia will carry more than twice the wine selection at Grady's and boost craft beers holdings as well.
And that's not all these guys have up their sleeve. By late summer or early fall, they intend to open the Test Kitchen around the corner from Bacchanalia. "This will be a small, very intimate but approachable restaurant experience," says Popovic. The 30-seat spot will feature a menu that changes weekly around the very best ingredients available to the chefs.
For now, stop in to see Popovic and Nieves at Grady's.