Last year as part of our recurring Rising Star Chef series we profiled
Ryan Kaston, who at the time was the executive chef at Bistro 185
(991 E. 185th St., 216-481-9635). Kaston recently purchased the 10-year-old business from owners Marc and Ruth Levine.
After graduating from Hocking College’s culinary school, Kaston worked his way through many of Cleveland’s best kitchens, including Moxie, Red, Lockkeepers, Paladar and Deagan’s Kitchen. He made the jump to Bistro 185 two years ago and quickly found himself running the back of the house. Now he’s running the entire show.
He says that the jump to owner is an inevitable one for culinary professionals who strive to work as hard and smart as they can.
“Too many times I’ve found myself in a sous chef position or an executive sous position or executive chef position running that operation as if it were mine,” he explains. “It’s something that’s instilled in you, something you just do. Once I realized that I was just going to continue to run everyone’s operation like it was my own, then I might as well go out on a limb and have my own.”
Earlier this year Bistro 185 celebrated its 10th anniversary, outlasting the business it replaced, John Christie’s Tavern, by a couple years. The Collinwood area restaurant has survived in a challenging market by being approachable, affordable and delicious. Popular items like house-smoked duck breast with potato pancakes, calamari misto with tempura-fried rings, tentacles and seasonal veggies, and chicken schnitzel with pierogis are going nowhere, he promises.
Looking ahead, Kaston says he will work hard to preserve the goodwill that his predecessors have cultivated while forging a lasting reputation of his own.
“You have to acknowledge the efforts that [Marc and Ruth] put in,” he says. “It has been a tremendous 10 years that they’ve been here. Going forward we’ll continue to try and cater to the neighborhood by keeping it approachable, not too pretension. You can still be able to have some fun with the menu, fun with the drinks, fun with the food. We’ll keep pushing, keep packing seats in the door and try and continue the legacy of Bistro 185.”
Now, perhaps, the Levines finally will get that retirement they always planned on having.
“Instead of retiring a little over 10 years ago like most people do, we opened a new business,” Ruth comments. “This was a seamless transition. Marc and I want Ryan to be successful. We’ve been talking to our customers about the transition. Ryan really likes being on the floor. I think it’s really good to have that kind of facetime with people.”