Moxie Celebrates 20 Years with a Chef-Fueled Reunion

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click to enlarge Jon Bennett (left) Brad Friedlander
Jon Bennett (left) Brad Friedlander
“A party 20 years in the making” pretty much says it all. When Moxie (3355 Richmond Rd., 216-831-5599) opened its doors in December 1997, Cleveland’s dining transformation was just a glimmer in the eyes of a few forward-thinking chefs and restaurateurs. Thanks to people like Brad Friedlander and his former Moxie partner Craig Sumers, the entire region soon became seeded with culinary talent.

“The amount of chefs who have been through this restaurant – it makes you smile,” says Friedlander.

And not just Moxie; going all the way back to Lopez, which opened with uber-chef Rick Bayless at the wheel, the organization spun off dozens of chefs, who went off to open their own spots and, in turn, spin off more great chefs. Jonathan Bennett, Doug Katz, Karen Small, Eric Williams and Tim Bando are just the tip of the iceberg.

To celebrate two decades in the business of making others full and happy, Moxie is throwing a reunion of sorts on Friday, October 27. Bennett, who recently left the restaurant group, will be back and joined by Bando (Grove Hill), Peter Vauthy (Red), Sean St. Clair (nou•veau, Concord), Drew Racin (Lucky Rooster Kitchen, Hilton Head), Ryan Kaston (Bistro 185), and Katie O’Donnell (Catanese Classic Seafood).

Each chef will have their own station, where they’ll be offering “Moxie-inspired” dishes. The food will be complemented by booze, live music and dancing.

Portions of the $100 ticket price will go to MedWish International.

On its own, lasting 20 years in the restaurant business is a monumental feat, but Friedlander hardly has stood still. In the coming week Red Restaurant Group will open its fifth steakhouse, this one in Pittsburgh. In spring, Red in Beachwood will close and reopen in the new Pinecrest development. For now, the plans call for Moxie to temporarily operate out of the old Red space while Moxie undergoes a renovation. And when it returns home, the old Red space will be ripe for a new concept.

“I’ll tell you, it is a feat,” Friedlander says about the milestone. “This business keeps getting tougher and tougher. The people today are so different and the work ethic today is so different, it’s hard to relate to. It really is.”

Call the restaurant for tickets.

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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