Let's get this out of the way from the jump: We likely will not be dining anytime soon at Sherla's Chicken and Oysters, Michael Symon's casual neighborhood spot slowly taking shape in the former home of Lolita in Tremont, which suffered a catastrophic fire more than two years ago. When it does open — this summer, next fall, or just in time for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland — it will offer a casual mix of raw oysters, smoked seafood boards, fried chicken and wood-roasted chicken and veggies.
That said, the number of other exciting bar, restaurant and brewery projects that have our attention is nothing short of impressive. From Lakewood to Chagrin Falls to Canton and all points in between, there are heaps of new ventures presently taking shape.
Ohio City/Detroit Shoreway/Tremont
In Pittsburgh's Strip District, the Smallman Galley is a warren of activity that bears little resemblance to the bright, bland food halls that are popping up all over the nation. Come summer, the Galley Group will attempt to duplicate the success of that venture within the four walls of the former Massimo Da Milano restaurant space at West 25th and Detroit. Equal parts food hall and restaurant incubator, Ohio City Galley will welcome a handful of aspiring restaurateurs for one-year terms.
We've been fans of Jeremy Umansky ever since he brought his unique bag of culinary skills — wild-edible foraging, ferments, charcuterie, koji-culturing — to town. All those weapons will be employed at Larder, a modern delicatessen currently taking shape in an old firehouse next door to Rising Star Coffee. It's been two years since Umansky announced his plans, but the delicious finish line is just months away.
How fortuitous for partners Vaughn Stewart and Luke Brevoort to secure space for their new brewery not just in Ohio City, the ganglion of Cleveland brewing, but on the very site of a productive, significant old brewery. Where once Baehr Brewing crafted lagers kept cool by blocks of Lake Erie ice, Bookhouse Brewing is currently coming together. Stewart, a brewer, and Brevoort, a former bookshop operator, hope to create a low-key neighborhood pub that serves as "the calm within the storm."
Practically straddling the border of Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City is a squat brick building that long housed an art gallery. Come March, it will reopen as Tributary. While it's being billed as a neighborhood bar, the interior is being built out by the team behind such interiors as Spotted Owl, Greenhouse Tavern, Fat Cats and Giant in Chicago. Owner John Burens says that Tributary will be "the kind of place where you can get both a Pabst and a French 75 without having to explain to the bartender how to make it."
Courtney Bonning already has started slinging confections at her new production facility and retail outlet at Hub 55, the mixed-use facility at St. Clair and East 55th that includes Goldhorn Brewery and Sterle's Slovenian House. In the coming weeks, she and partner Kelly Brewer will unveil the second phase of Bigmouth Donut Co., a retail space in the Hingetown area of Ohio City. Plans call for a fun, funky, petite space that might just sell donuts 24 hours a day.
You gotta feel bad for Nav Singh. He's been spinning his wheels at the starting line for months while attempting to get his permits in place to open Ohio City BBQ. When the smoke does begin to billow, diners can expect straightforward Southern-style barbeque items like brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder slow smoked over real wood in a beefy Southern Pride smoker and dished up in a rock-and-roll themed cafe.
Change comes slowly to the West Side Market, and when it does arrive, it typically is modest in scope and ambition. Tom McIntyre's plans for a choice corner spot, which hasn't seen a major upgrade for decades, are anything but meek. Long home to Dani's Seafood — but a fishmonger's space since 1912 — Stand H14 soon will have a completely new look and mission. While Kate's Fish will continue to focus on fresh, seasonal fish and seafood, the new venture will offer "seafood shack" style items like fried whole clams, lobster rolls, peel-and-eat shrimp, Hawaiian poke, and fried fish sandwiches and dinners.
Come summer, Rachel Kingsbury will be bouncing like a pinball between her three-year-old green grocer/cafe The Grocery OHC and a second shop on the eastern edge of the very same neighborhood. The new grocery will enjoy a first-floor presence in the large Quarter development currently rising at the corner of West 25th and Detroit. At three times the size, the new shop will stock more staples and prepare an expanded menu of fresh, healthy foods that can be enjoyed on the patio.
If you've ever dropped by Cantine in Broadview Heights, then you've witnessed the knack that Ross Valenti has for getting the basics right. That popular wine bar, bistro and bottle shop offers guests a hip environment in which to enjoy a concise selection of approachable, well-crafted small and medium plates. Valenti's goal for the Literary Tavern, which is the new name for the old Literary Café in Tremont, is to create a casual, comfortable and relevant place for neighbors to enjoy themselves: essentially, a new-old neighborhood classic.
When Cafe Sausalito opened in 1987, it was one of the original tenants of the then-vibrant Galleria mall. It has managed to survive lo these many years thanks to robust lunch crowds and a thriving catering and special-events business. But owner Babu Chandrababu, who purchased the business from founder Gary Lucarelli, decided it was time to pull up stakes, relocate and rebrand. When it opens in the coming weeks as Sausalito on Ninth, it will do so from an impressive new corner perch in the IMG Building. The space will feature a second-level mezzanine with kitchen and dining room that overlooks the main floor and street-side patio.
Southern Tier Brewing knows a good market when they see it. The Lakewood, New York-based company will open a brewery and tasting room in the heart of the Gateway District, in the home of the short-lived 811 Kitchen on Prospect. When it opens this spring, the venture will feature Cleveland-brewed beers along with the full portfolio of Southern Tier (and, perhaps, Victory) seasonal and flagship beers, including barrel-aged products and sours.
If the name Good Night John Boy conjures up images of a '70s-era melodrama, then owner Michael Schwartz has done his job. When it opens this spring in the former Flip Side spot in the Flats, GNJB will be a highly conceptual dive bar dripping with nostalgic fun. By day, the cafe will serve diner-style breakfast and lunch. Come the weekend, it will be a riotous '70s-style party atmosphere serving late-night food.
Marble Room has been leaving diners speechless thanks to an interior ripped from the Beaux Arts era. The massive sushi and steak restaurant is one of the most grand and ambitious establishments downtown, but that isn't stopping owners Frank and Malisse Sinito from pushing ahead with plans to open two new ventures. Il Venetian, an upscale Italian restaurant, and Marble Room Sushi, a carry-out concept, will both open at Key Center.
Out in Lakewood, Distill Table is a project that will blend a farm-to-table eatery with a grain-to-glass distillery. Chef Eddie Tancredi, formerly of Adega at The 9, will offer affordable, customizable small plates, shared items, sandwiches, pizzas and a handful of features. He's joined in the two-headed venture by Kevin and Ann Thomas of Western Reserve Distillers, which will produce a variety of house-distilled spirits that can be sampled in a tasting room.
When Rood Food and Pie opens in the West Madison neighborhood of Lakewood, it will be an all-day cafe that straddles the line between breakfast and dinner, sweet and savory, classic and contemporary. In the morning, neighbors will enjoy light breakfasts of coffee drinks, pastries, overnight oats, Scotch eggs and pie. Lunch might feature biscuits, savory chicken potpies, smashed avocado toasts and pie. Dinner will offer soups, build-your-own slider flights and more pie, naturally.
The team behind Barrio is not slowing down. They recently opened the fifth location of their popular taco-and-margarita chain, this one in Willoughby. They will soon add Birdtown Brewery, a casual eatery and brewery that has been slowly taking shape in the old St. Gregory Catholic Church in Lakewood's Birdtown neighborhood.
Judd's City Tavern sits near the border of Cleveland and Lakewood, in a sort of no-man's land between Birdtown and Detroit Shoreway. It doesn't really matter where it sits because what's inside will likely lure curious imbibers from all corners of the city. Step inside the whimsical interior and you're immersed in a remarkable collection of beer, sports, toy, automotive, postal and first-responder memorabilia.
The well-worn Tavern Company space on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights is inching ever closer to becoming the Kensington Pub, an elevated American tavern serving upscale pub grub and steaks in an unpretentious setting. Owners Jeff King and Brad Poe have been hard at work since September renovating and improving the interior while retaining its old-school charm.
For the past four years, the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen has been helping small food startups make the transition from dream to reality. When the owners of that enterprise launch the Cleveland Food Hub, local food-based businesses will gain another partner in production. Under one very large roof will be private kitchens that can be rented by the month, a co-packing facility that will manufacture, package and ship products like pasta sauce, salsa and energy bars, and thousands of square feet of dry, cold and freezer storage space.
In just four years' time, Cleveland Bagel has progressed from a home-based business to a thriving brick-and-mortar storefront and production kitchen in Ohio City. But owners Dan Herbst and Geoff Hardman aren't content to coast. Next up for the bagel boys is an eastside location that will closely mirror the original one in terms of size and scope. The 2,800-square-foot spot sits adjacent to Souper Market on Carnegie Avenue and will serve as both a production facility and retail shop.
Nobody can accuse Geraci's Restaurant of expanding too quickly. For 60 years, this has been a one-location station dishing up hearty, soul-satisfying Italian-American staples in University Heights. But come spring, Geraci's owners Marti (Geraci) and Greg Spoth will spread their wings and open a second location on Chagrin Boulevard in Pepper Pike. While the food will be identical, it will come with a full bar, more seating, a patio, plenty of parking and a POS system that accepts credit cards.
During the six years that Luna Bakery and Cafe has existed at the top of Cedar Hill in Cleveland Heights it has grown steadily in footprint and food. By taking possession of adjacent spaces, Luna has doubled in size, tripled in seating and greatly expanded its menu. Now, building on her solid reputation, owner Bridget Thibeault will open a second location in Moreland Hills, in the small strip that is home to ML Tavern and Flour. When it opens this spring, Luna will serve the same sweet and savory options — macarons, tarts, breakfast dishes, soups, salads, crepes and panini – just more of them.
Paladar Latin Kitchen served its first mojito in Woodmere a decade ago. Since then, owner Andy Himmel has added locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Next up for Himmel was Bomba Tacos & Rum, which started in Rocky River and has spread to Fairlawn. Those two Latin-themed taco and rum joints will soon be joined by a third, this one at La Place at the intersection of Richmond and Cedar roads. Once home to Cooker and Sushi Rock, that corner spot has since been demolished and rebuilt.
Last spring, Gamekeeper's Taverne in Chagrin Falls closed its doors after 40 years. While we don't yet know precisely what will replace it, we do know who. Hyde Park Restaurant Group has signed a lease on the iconic property and plans to open a new concept in late spring or early summer following a major interior facelift. Of course, Hyde Park is behind Hyde Park Prime Steakhouses, ML Tavern in Moreland Hills, nearby Jekyll's Kitchen and other concepts elsewhere. So far, the team is leaning toward a "chef-inspired steakhouse with a lot of European influences."
In a rare twist of fate, Rick's Café in Chagrin Falls also shuttered is doors last year after four decades. Taking its place following some pretty significant interior modifications will be Bell & Flower, a new concept from the owners behind restaurants such as One Red Door, Flip Side, and Three Palms, and entertainment venues like FWD Nightclub and Magnolia. Chef Shawn Monday and partner Michael Schwartz will unveil their new American restaurant this spring.
The food and drink options at Pinecrest in Orange Village are falling into place. Set to debut this May are local operators like Red the Steakhouse and Restore Cold Pressed, and national names like Pinstripes Bistro, Bowling & Bocce, City Works Eatery & Pour House, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Fusian and Bibibop. Oh yeah, and a little-known burger concept called Shake Shack, Ohio's first, will be dishing up those habit-forming burgers, dogs, fries and shakes.
In Shaker, Van Aken District also has its sights set on a May opening for many of its shops. The tenants announced thus far include Jonathon Sawyer, who has earmarked a marque space in a two-story, two-tenant property; Genuine Pizza from Miami-based chef Michael Schwartz; Mitchell's Ice Cream; Restore Cold Pressed; Rising Star Coffee; and the widely anticipated food hall concept that will house multiple tenants.
In March, Matt Cole will unveil a 10,000-square-foot Fat Head's Brewery in Canton, at the Venue at Belden. The 225-seat restaurant and brewery features an exposed 10-barrel brewhouse and tank farm separated from the public by little more than a drink rail with seats. The food menu will be nearly identical to the one in North Olmsted.
BrewDog recently stormed the United States by planting a very big flag in Columbus with the opening of its new 100,000-square-foot brewery in Canal Winchester, just outside the city, but this Scotland-based brewery has been making a lot of noise for a decade. The company recently confirmed to Scene that its next move will involve opening a Cleveland-based BrewDog Bar in an as-yet-unannounced location.