Friday, June 23, 2017

Avon Lake Singer-Songwriter Callie Sullivan Participated in a Songwriting Session with John Mayer

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:33 AM

  • Kelly Davidson
One of six young songwriters chosen to perform an original song for John Mayer at Berklee College of Music (Mayer’s alma mater) in Boston last Friday, Avon Lake’s Callie Sullivan performed her tune “The Sinner” in front of a crowd of about 500 peers.

Mayer offered a mix of praise and reportedly said he liked the way she mixed “colloquial speak” with poetry as he gave her a couple of tips.

“There’s something about A minor that’s really nice to write in...but there can be real emo feel to it,” he said. “It’s strange to resolve back to the minor…it doesn’t pay off as much as it should.”

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Update: Swensons is Officially Expanding to University Heights, Could Open This Year

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 4:47 PM

  • Photo via kryden_ on/Instagram
Update: After much speculation, Swensons Drive-In is coming to University Heights, and could be open within the year.

In April, Scene broke the news that Swensons had plans to open an eighth location, this one in the Cleveland area. Now, with the approval of the University Heights City Council earlier this week, LeBron James' favorite burger joint is officially coming to the east side.

The soon-to-be-built retro-inspired building will sit next to Jack's Deli, at 14510 Cedar Road.

(Original Post 4/6/2017):“Service” isn’t often a concept that comes up when discussing fast food restaurants. In fact, the entire foundation of the category is based on reducing labor costs by eliminating servers.

But park your car at any of the Swensons Drive-In locations and you actually will feel appreciated – important even. Quicker than you can roll down the window, a zealous, dutiful and genuinely cheery waiter – here called “curb server” – is at your beck and call, handy with a menu for the rare customer who doesn’t already know what he or she wants.

“White tablecloth-level service,” CEO Jeff Flowers calls it without a trace of hyperbole, despite the fact that customers dine in parked cars.

That level of service, coupled with the quality and freshness of its product, is how this Akron-born institution has managed to survive and grow alongside behemoths like McDonald’s and Burger King. Since Wesley "Pop" Swenson opened his first drive-in, in 1934, the regional chain has grown to seven locations.

But unlike those zippy curb servers – whose official rallying cry is “Sprint and smile!” – the organization does not move quickly. In fact, Swensons has not added a new location since the Seven Hills shop opened in 2001, and there has been zero desire to breach the I-480 boundary.

Until now.

“We’re definitely working hard to get some new sites open in Cleveland,” says Flowers, a former curb server himself. “We’re slow, we’re methodical, and we’re going to make sure we do things right.”

Flowers says that until very recently, he and Steve Thompson, owner since 1974, frankly didn’t believe that a market for their product existed outside of the Greater Akron area. That changed in July of 2013, when the Swensons food truck first rolled onto the scene.

“We’ve always looked at ourselves as an Akron organization,” notes Flowers. “But when we first put the food truck out, it really became apparent that there’s a strong market for us up there – coming up and doing the Walnut Wednesdays, not to mention the Cavs, Indians and Monsters playoff games.”

If the truck managed to unearth a heretofore silent fan base, it also reinforced the fact that the Galley Boy is by far the most popular menu item – both on the truck’s streamlined menu and the restaurant’s standard one. The twin 3-ounce patties, which are house-ground and hand-formed daily at the company’s commissary, come topped with cheese and a pair of “top secret” sauces. Each bundle of love is swaddled in wax paper and garnished with a toothpick-stabbed olive.

But Swensons’ menu goes well past the Galley Boy. In addition to single, double and triple burgers, there are hot dogs, Sloppy Joe, fried bologna and fish sandwiches. There is also pulled pork, grilled cheese, egg salad and a shrimp dinner, believe it or not, paired with sides like onion rings, fried mushrooms and “potato teezers.” All of the above gets washed down with one of literally dozens of phosphates, milkshakes and soft drinks, including the odd but loveable California and Florida concoctions. The mile-long menu is the antithesis of the modern, succinct fast food roster.

“Quite frankly, the menu might be slightly bigger than it needs to be,” admits Flowers, who adds that having something for everyone has been essential to the brand’s success.

Flowers reports that the organization is actively looking at locations on both sides of town, and it hopes to have something in the works – if not open and serving Galley Boys – before the end of the year. But given the unique nature of the operation, finding ideal spots is more challenging than the typical strip-mall eatery. Unlike most fast food joints, Swensons shuns soulless drive-through windows in favor of the more relaxed drive-in format. And unlike contemporary drive-in chains like Sonic that utilize faceless squawk boxes, they employ living, breathing human beings to do the job. And because every one of those curb servers is a full-time college student, proximity to universities is key.

Thanks to schools like Cleveland State, John Carroll, Baldwin Wallace and Case, Cleveland is ideally situated for multiple locations, Flowers admits, but given the company’s history of measured expansion, we shouldn’t expect a spate of openings.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to show more than Akron what Swensons is all about,” says Flowers. “Hopefully we can get another couple restaurants open in Cleveland, but we’re not going to damage the brand. There’s too much that is important and that has allowed Swensons to be around for the last 83 years to duplicate like wildfire.”
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6 Concerts to Catch This Weekend in Cleveland

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 4:30 PM


Xenia Rubinos/Punch Drunk Tagalongs/Fake Species

When recording her latest effort, Black Terry Cat, singer-songwriter Xenia Rubinos and longtime drummer Marco Buccelli, who produced the album, put in some long hours. Working with engineer Jeremy Loucas, they logged an average of 16 to 17 hours a day for five months to complete the disc. Named after “a giant black scraggly cat” that surprised Rubinos one night at her Brooklyn home, the album allows Rubinos to show how capably she can embrace different genres. She effortlessly shifts from R&B to hip-hop and jazz. The lively album opener, "Romeo," features electronic bleeps and blips along with soulful vocals, making it sound like a cross between Macy Gray and Aphex Twin. (Jeff Niesel), 9 p.m., $10 ADV, $12 DOS. Grog Shop.

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Parkway Drive Riles Up the Mosh Pit at Rousing House of Blues Concert

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 3:21 PM

Moments before Parkway Drive took the stage last night at House of Blues for a sold out show, fans started to chant “Parkway Drive” in hopes that it would get the band out on stage quicker. To no one’s surprise, it didn’t.

Eventually, the Aussie band did make its way onto the stage and began its set with “Wild Eyes,” a song that featured a rousing “oh-oh-oh” chant before transitioning into vicious riffs heavy enough to rip apart the floor. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.

Well known for brutal breakdowns, Parkway Drive kept the security guards busy as fans started to crowd surf and make their way to the front of the stage. It was pure chaos as singer Winston McCall intertwined his long growls and screams with the breakdowns.

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'Positive Ticketing' Program Offers Free McDonald's Ice Cream to Akron Kids

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 1:59 PM

  • Photo via McDonald's/Facebook
In an effort to encourage kids to be on their best behavior this summer, while helping cops to seem more approachable, Akron police kick off their 'positive ticketing' program for the second year in a row.

Starting this Friday, police who see children doing good things in the community, like wearing a bike helmet or picking up trash, will issue tickets redeemable for, oh yes, free McDonald's ice cream.

Ticket winners will also be eligible to win a free bike throughout the summer.

"It encourages officers to get out of their cruisers and develop relationships in the community," Lt. Rick Edwards told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Though a McDonald's cone is undeniably refreshing, is it enough to improve an entire community? Many Canadian cities think so, as similar positive ticketing programs have popped up across Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Since 2010, several police forces in Canada utilized these programs to encourage good behavior and relations. These forces have boasted positive results in their communities, including recognition by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

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Cleveland Pizza Fest Returns to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 1:53 PM

Thirteen local pizza joints will participate in this year’s Cleveland Pizza Fest, which returns this weekend to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea.

The event kicks off tomorrow night at 5 with a special Bike Night. The Spazmatics and Faction Cleveland will perform, and there will be special onsite parking for bikes.

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Huge Original Euclid Tavern Sign From 1909 For Sale

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 12:31 PM

The original 14-foot Euclid Tavern sign has appeared on Chicago Craigslist, and the seller is taking offers.

"This is THE ONE AND ONLY ORIGINAL Tavern sign when it opened in 1909," the post reads. "Taking offers, you will never find another one ever."

The seller appears to be located in the vicinity of Sharon, Ohio, north of Columbus. Maybe they thought they'd fetch better offers from the North Shore than from the North Coast?

The Euclid Tavern did indeed open in 1909, but according to Cleveland Historical, it became a "prominent fixture" of University Circle only in the late 1970s and 1980s. It was a hot-spot for the alt-music scene and remains widely known for the concert posters of local artist Derek Hess.

Though it closed in 2001, the "Euc" re-opened in 2014 with "Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern" branding. These days, it's got a new version of the original sign:

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