This week, Ciao Bistro (3800 Whitman Ave., 216-371-1007) will open in the attractive brick building that was briefly home to Cha Spirits and Pizza, which relocated from Battery Park at the tail end of last year. The spot on a quiet residential street in Ohio City was also home to Pastas and Pastries, an even shorter-lived restaurant concept.
“This is a whole new concept, a whole new everything,” promises owner Shawn Taylor.
Taylor, a Cleveland native, says that for years, working as both an owner and operations manager, he’s opened scores of restaurants around the country, including large spots like Carrabba's Italian Grill. He came back home for family and jumped at the opportunity to take over the little spot on Whitman.
“This is exciting because it’s a smaller, more intimate affair,” he says. “This is the right spot; it’s adorable, it’s cute, there’s a lot of walk-up traffic.”
Taylor describes Ciao as “rustic Italian-Sicilian with a little Mediterranean flair.” There will be soups, salads, pastas, pizzas and entrees, including steaks, salmon and specials like chicken Marsala and lemon-pepper chicken.
There is a strong emphasis on “value,” Taylor asserts, with most meals priced at or under $15. “Even with bread and salad you’ll still be around $20, which I think is really good for Italian.”
The spot comes with a full liquor license.
Some minor cosmetic tweaks were made to the 40-seat bistro, which will open this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday. When it does, it will serve dinner and weekend brunch.
As for why his predecessors failed to survive, Taylor won’t venture a guess. But when it comes to Ciao, he has a two-pronged plan for how to succeed.
“I’ve been doing this so many years,” he says. “I think every restaurant is driven by food and service. If the food’s not good, you’re not going to make it. If the service is not good, you’re not going to make it. Day one will set your tone for the duration.”