"This last week I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I've been so excited," says David Hridel, sounding a bit like an expecting father. "I just signed the lease an hour ago and finally have the key."
Hridel is talking about the historic Bridgeview Café, the squat green-roofed building on Lorain, just a couple blocks east of the West Side Market. The funky building has been squarely in the sights of many an entrepreneur, but until now, it's been an elusive prey.
"It's literally one of my favorite buildings," says Hridel, for years a fixture in the Cleveland bar and dining scene. "I've been trying to track down the owner for years."
Hridel, most recently GM with the restaurant group behind ABC, XYZ and Viaduct Lounge, says that he is shooting for a June 2 opening of the Bridgeview Tavern and Co. When renovations are complete, the 2,600-square-feet building with attached garage should seat approximately 90 in the bar and dining room.
"It's bigger than it looks from the outside," he notes.
Changes to the building will be kept to a minimum, easy to do when the space comes with a 32-foot tigerwood bar. Hridel's wife, a historic preservationist, uncovered some interesting facts on the property, which dates back well before the Prohibition. The last time the building actually served customers likely was in the early 1990s.
While a chef has yet to be named, the concept is being billed as a "gastro-tavern," with made-from-scratch small plates. Imbibers will see 25 taps and an eclectic spirits program. Plans are to open for dinner only and later add weekend brunch. Down the road, a back patio and possibly rooftop bar will be added as well.
Erica Coffee, another former ABC, XYZ staffer, will join Bridgeview as GM.