We first told you about The Plum Café and Kitchen (4133 Lorain Ave.) one year ago after we chatted with owner Jonah Oryszak about his plans to build an affordable café and bistro in Ohio City. Since purchasing a 150-year-old building on Lorain Avenue, just west of Platform Beer, he and his partner Nate Lobas have been hard at work gutting and rebuilding the poorly cared for structure.
Now, with much of the heavy lifting behind them, the team can look forward to opening day, which management estimates will take place within the next two months or so.
Oryszak, a bartender for the past six years at Happy Dog, says the aim during rehab was to showcase the building’s history without mimicking the hackneyed design elements of today.
“Our goal was to keep it as basic as possible – something that’s not going to look dated in five years,” he says of the storefront space. “We avoided all the trendy things like exposed wood, mason jars, and Edison bulbs. We’re going for timeless.”
During the day, The Plum will operate as a neighborhood café with counter service. Coffee and pastries in the morning will give way to fresh soups, salads and sandwiches at lunch, when diners will pay at the counter, grab a self-serve beverage from the coolers, and take a seat.
Come 4 p.m., The Plum will convert to a full-service but casual farm-to-table bistro serving seasonal American food. The occupancy is being kept to an intimate 50 seats, including the 15 stools at the bar, which fosters more interaction between host and guest.
“I have no interest in these huge operations that people are building,” Oryszak explains. “I love small, intimate bars and restaurants. My goal was always to open a place that’s an alternative to those bigger places on W. 25th Street. I think small is the next trend.”
Chef-partner Brett Sawyer, who for the past two years has worked for Jonathon Sawyer (no relation) at his Trentina and Greenhouse Tavern restaurants, says diners can look forward to a menu filled with bar-friendly snacks, shared plates and family-size meals like whole pan-fried white bass. There will be options in every price point, along with plenty of vegan and vegetarian dishes.
“We will try to have a balanced menu,” says Sawyer. “Something I definitely learned from chef Sawyer at Trentina and chef [Brian] Goodman at Greenhouse was to always have those dishes there for people.”
The public will get its first taste of the coming restaurant this Friday, August 28, when the Plum guys host a pop-up at Platform Beer. On the menu will be dishes like fried smelt Po’ Boys, banh mi sandwiches with jackfruit and vegan pate, grit fritters, and a cold pesto green bean salad.
Management's goal is to continue doing pop-ups at Platform and other locations clear up to opening day to help build awareness.
For Sawyer, who will be stepping into his first role as chef-owner, these are exciting times.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he says. “It’s equally as exciting as it is scary.”