Bartleby will open in early August.
It’s been more than a year since Morgan Yagi announced his plans to convert the former Crop Bistro space in Ohio City to Bartleby
(2537 Lorain Ave., 216-417-2224). But finally, following a week or so of private events, the restaurant officially will open its doors to the public in early August.
Yagi spent much of the past 15 months gently reshaping the interior of the historic United Bank Building, a 1920s-era property with soaring ceilings, bronze light fixtures and a run of arched windows that flood the space with natural light.
Newly constructed shelving serves to divide the interior into three somewhat equal zones. The towering U-shaped structures combine to create a distinct bar and lounge area, main dining room, and “bonus” space that can be used for overflow dining or private events. But because they aren’t solid walls, energy can flow from zone to zone.
“The idea is to have some visual transmission so there will be some activity between, but hopefully not feel that there’s this cavernous, empty space,” Yagi explains. “I think it’s working; it already feels more manageable.”
Another tactic that Yagi employed was the reliance on soft seating areas with richly upholstered furniture, plush built-in booths and banquettes, boldly colored carpet and other attractive fixtures that add visual appeal.
“I think this kind of seating is more forgiving when the room’s not completely full,” notes Yagi. “Like when you walk into a hotel lobby with a lot of soft seating; you can walk through it and not notice. We’ll see if my theory proves to be true.”
While Crop Bistro leaned more to fine dining, Bartleby aims to be more approachable and accessible in its offerings. Chef Matt DePante, most recently from The Dutch in Miami, has worked alongside consulting chef Dante Boccuzzi to develop a menu that offers a broad mix of tastes. Diners can look forward to items like burgers, pizzas and bowls of pasta, but also a great grilled ribeye, all dished up in a supper club-style environment. The formerly open kitchen has been sealed off from the main room.
Other notable partners in the project include general manager Ryan Britton, Stephen Taylor of Emerging Concepts and Spotted Owl owner Will Hollingsworth, who is putting together the beverage program. Lounge lizards will enjoy sumptuous seating, a gold-flecked black quartz bartop and top-flight cocktails. What they won’t see behind the bar is the 100-year-old mural by local artist Glenn Shaw. It has been covered up (but protected and preserved) by a new backbar.
For Yagi, who also operates Hibachi Japan Steak House restaurants in Cuyahoga Falls and Solon, and is a partner in Boccuzzi’s DBA in Akron, Bartleby presents a foothold into one of his favorite neighborhoods.
“Ohio City is more of a neighborhood,” he says. “It feels different if people live around you. I’ve always thought that’s what makes Ohio City – and Tremont – different from other entertainment districts. There’s more staying power and it feels different.”