Flower by Any Other Name

A restaurant wilts, but another grows in its place.

Wilbur The Cedar Lee Theatre
Okay, listen and try to keep up.

For the first 20 years or so, the restaurant that occupies the vintage carriage house off University Circle (11401 Bellflower Road, 216-231-4469) was called That Place on Bellflower. Then, when new owners took over in July 2002, they shortened the name to Flower. And since last month, when the original owners, Isabella Basile and son David Chesler, resumed control, it's simply been called That Place.

Name changes aside, the latest transition couldn't have gone more smoothly. "Flower's owners handed me the keys at 3:45 on April 22," says general manager Debbie Brown, "and at 4 p.m., we reopened as That Place." Since then, much of the former flower-themed decoration has been removed and replaced by striking contemporary art from Chesler's private collection, and the top toque has been assumed by Thomas "Hooper" Crane, a 23-year fixture in the restaurant's kitchen.

When we visited on a recent weeknight, the old carriage house was a vision of loveliness, from the graceful petunias blooming around the front door to the enclosed patio decked out with umbrella tables and mini-lights. Crane's stripped-down dinner menu, pulled together just in time to get the new place off and running, was pretty basic, with five starters and a dozen entrées that came with whatever sides you liked -- as long as you like asparagus, baby spinach, or rice. Still, that asparagus tasted garden-fresh, main-course pork chops were juicy, and service was welcoming and attentive. Brown promises that a new menu, probably with a French accent, will be available in a few more weeks.

. . . Big Guy's Pizza (2539 West 10th Street, 216-436-8888) recently hired hospitality-industry insider Tony Prusak as marketing veep, with an eye toward expansion. Plans call for buying up underperforming mom-and-pop pizzerias and converting them to the Big Guy's brand. Initially, the growth will focus on the NEO market, but once all the kinks are worked out, Big Guy's may go statewide or even national.

. . . Curtis Gray, former GM and executive chef at the now-closed Watermark, has been named managing partner at Castaldi's Market & Grill, a 240-seat restaurant and 2,800-square-foot market coming to Tower City Center in August. Other locations for the Italian eatery, known for its singing waiters, are in Norfolk, Virginia; Dearborn, Michigan; and Tampa, Florida.

. . . Cleveland artist Hector Vega has announced the opening of Artefino, in the Tower Press Building at 1900 Superior Avenue. His combination art gallery and café is scheduled to launch on June 14.

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