A Dozen New Openings Await Cleveland Diners Before the Year is Over

If you're the type of diner who's eager to sample new places, you're in luck. Cleveland will welcome a handful of fresh spots over the next few months.

On the front burner is a pair projects from two well-known Cleveland chefs. First up is Jonathon Sawyer, who will open Sawyer's at the Van Aken District in early fall. The James Beard Award-winning chef describes the venture as "a more polished" version of Greenhouse Tavern. At just 80 seats, the space is small, sharp and exquisitely tailored. A central dining platform will offer seating on leather banquettes, while a 12-stool white terrazzo-topped bar holds court in a quiet corner. The kitchen will be anchored by a custom-built wood and charcoal fueled grill that will turn out veggies, seafood, meats and other creative fare.

Next up for Fire Food and Drink chef Doug Katz is Zhug, a full-service, 80-seat restaurant that will open this fall in the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. The bistro will have a full bar and feature a small-plates menu showcasing foods from various Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures. As for the name, Katz explains, "In most Israeli restaurants, zhug is the ultimate flavor, the main condiment that you add for spice." The goal is to be open by mid-October.

The family that launched three Barroco Arepa Bars around town is busy transforming a former walk-up ice cream shop in Lakewood into an "L.A.-style Mexican taco stand" called Hola Tacos. When it opens in late August, the full-service outdoor café will serve authentic tacos from various regions around Mexico. During the colder months, the spot will rely on business built around take-out, delivery and possibly drive-in service, where runners cater to car-bound customers. Down the road, a seasonal enclosure with heaters might be installed.

For the past year, Angie's Soul Café has been renovating the former Hot Sauce Williams building at Carnegie to prepare it for a fall opening. The new restaurant will be brand new inside and out, but will serve a familiar lineup of soul food classics like fried chicken, freshly fried fish, daily specials like meatloaf and Salisbury steak, and irresistible sides like black-eyed peas, collard greens and macaroni and cheese. The new restaurant will facilitate take-out orders with dedicated parking spots, curb service and, soon, an app for ordering and payment.

Vince Morelli worked at the red-hot Roberta's Pizza in Brooklyn. Now he's building out a pizzeria of his own in sturdy brick building on the eastern edge of Detroit Shoreway. Slated to open in the next couple months, Cent's Pizzeria (short for Vincent) will feature wood-fired pies made with naturally fermented doughs and topped with house-stretched mozzarella and a wide variety of creative toppings. To wash it all down there will be cold beer and natural wines.

Next door in Ohio City, Arsenal Cider is busy building out a local version of its popular Pittsburgh-based cidery. Located on the ground floor of the Go Media building, across the street from Forest City Shuffleboard, the 30-seat taproom will boast a rustic, woodsy vibe similar to the original. On tap will be a selection of semi-sweet and dry ciders brewed in house or imported from HQ. Look for Arsenal to open in late summer.

Meadville, PA-based Voodoo Brewery has its sights set on Cleveland Heights, where it is transforming a roomy double storefront into a taproom and restaurant. When it opens this fall, the locally owned and operated "brewery" will feature a large selection of draft ales and lagers that are brewed at the production facility in Western PA. In addition to the fresh suds, Voodoo will offer wine, cider, cocktails and pub grub like pretzels, pizzas and tacos. A small patio will be added out back.

Most folks agree that the region's first Mexican restaurant was La Fiesta, which opened in 1952 at the corner of W. 25th Street and Walton Avenue. In the mid-1970s, that pioneering eatery relocated to Richmond Heights, where it has been ever since. In the coming months, it will relocate once again, this time to Beachwood. The family-run Mexican restaurant will soon take up residence at Richmond Plaza, the small commercial strip across the way from Red and Blu restaurants.

Lakewood Truck Park will take shape at the corner of Detroit and Edwards avenues in that city. The 19,000-square-foot lot will soon accommodate two distinct but attached buildings and a large year-round courtyard. The smaller structure will house an indoor bar, while the larger one will be a "four-season" room that opens up on all sides. Roughly three to four food trucks will park directly on the property, rotating almost daily.

The grand second-floor hall of the Heights Rockefeller Building in Cleveland Heights will soon house five top-of-the-line golf simulators offering up digital excursions to some of the best golf courses in the world. ProXimity Golf Lounge will also have a full bar and kitchen serving pub grub.

Also on our radar are projects like Goma, a Japanese fusion concept by chef Dante Boccuzzi that will open at Pinecrest, Pins Mechanical Co., a 28,000-square-foot entertainment complex coming to Ohio City, Casablanca Urban Cantina, Latin American-inspired concept from the Barroco folks, and Nashville-style chicken purveyors Hot Chicken Takeover, which is bound for Crocker Park.

About The Author

Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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