Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Bike Lane Bandits: An Exclusive Interview

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 5:59 PM


We’d actually been planning to run a cover story about Cleveland’s bike infrastructure before the events of last weekend. But when a team of “renegade bike enthusiasts,” or “guerilla stripers” — so dubbed by the PD’s Steven Litt — installed an unauthorized bike lane on Detroit Ave. from W. 29th to W.32nd, (a distance of about 1,000 feet) we were especially delighted to contribute to this ongoing conversation.

Our feature by Lee Chilcote paints a broad picture of commuter cyclists frustrated with the city’s sluggishness when it comes to creating and improving bike facilities. The city lays out roughly 6 miles of new bike lanes per year. That figure invites an involuntary “pssshhaw” from those even remotely acquainted with urban progress, and is in fact substantially fewer than even impoverished cities like Memphis and Detroit).

Detroit Ave. — not the city — is a striking example of the ineptitude: At a community meeting many moons ago, concerned Cleveland cyclists were assured that the 1.7 mile bike lane on Detroit from W. 29th to Lake Road would be installed by the fall of 2012. Spring of 2013 was considered the absolute latest it might appear, given the obstacles represented by foul weather and the filming of Captain America.

But as of last weekend, the bike lane still wasn’t there. Guerilla stripers used duct tape and spray chalk to send a message: We’re tired of waiting.

With predictably ironic expediency, a Cleveland work crew removed the guerillas’ handiwork in a matter of days. Maureen Harper, Cleveland’s Director of Communications, told Steven Litt that the city was worried about safety.

Scene was looking for more than canned remarks. And because we’re staffed with young indie upstarts who have neighborhood (if not necessarily romantic) ties to militant transportation advocates, we managed to secure an interview with the guerilla stripers themselves.

The renegades agreed to reveal their tactics under the condition of total anonymity. Here is what they said:

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Tom's Foolery to Release Biggest, Best, Strongest Batch of Applejack Yet

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 3:51 PM


As early as next week, bottles of Tom's Foolery Applejack Batch #4 will begin arriving on shelves at area liquor stores. While the release is now an annual occurrence, this year's batch is anything but typical, says founder Tom Herbruck.

"There will be a lot more product available this year as compared to last year," he says. "This year, we released 1,347 bottles as opposed to just 480 bottles last year. As a matter of fact, batch number four is larger than all three prior batches combined."

Another key difference is the alcohol by volume (ABV), which jumped from 80 proof to 90 proof — a 12.5% increase. The price, in contrast, has risen by just one dollar per bottle to $41. Observers will also notice a new attractive embossed bottle.

What hasn't changed is the pedigree. Herbruck and his wife Lianne still craft their apple brandy in Chagrin Falls using just local apples, water and yeast. The sweet cider is cold fermented before going through a double distillation and then aging in both American oak barrels and used Cognac barrels from France. At no point is any coloring or sugar added.

The result, according to the maker, is "a depth of character that intertwines notes of ripened fruit, subtle citrus and spice within a backdrop of wood, caramel and warming alcohol."

"I can humbly say that this is the best product we have ever made, and in my opinion, is the best American-made apple brandy that I have ever tasted (and, yes, I have tasted a lot of them)," says Herbruck.

If the bottles don't pop up at your friendly local hooch supplier, you can always contact the shop and have it special ordered.

Next up for fans of Tom's Foolery is the release next summer and fall of their pot-distilled bourbon and rye, which have been filling up barrels for two years now.

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Another Dumb Bill To Drug Test Welfare Recipients in Ohio

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 2:37 PM

This man is an idiot.
  • This man is an idiot.

State Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) is the latest Ohio GOPer to toss a bill into the pile that would drug test welfare recipients in the Buckeye State.

Previous efforts, despite inflammatory rhetoric playing off social and economic stereotypes meant to get a rise out of those conservative-minded voters who feel like social safety nets are a waste of money and all the poor people use the cash to go get high, have thankfully failed. Hell, even John Kasich has said that he's not interested in the idea.

But that won't stop Schaffer, who introduces the bill today. Talking to the Columbus Dispatch, the egregiously misguided state senator had this to say:

“It is time that we recognize that many families are trying to survive in drug-induced poverty, and we have an obligation to make sure taxpayer money is not being used to support drug dealers. We can no longer turn a blind eye to this problem.”

Ah, this problem and our blind eyes. Clearly there is something serious here that needs to be addressed.

Except, there's not.

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Chutney Rolls Graduates From Food Cart to Little Italy Cafe

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 2:04 PM


If you've attended Wade Oval Wednesday or visited the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square, you might have ordered a snack from Chutney Rolls. The year-old startup belongs to Indian-born Hrishue Mahalaha, a Case Western Reserve University graduate, who has done so well with the concept that he recently graduated to a bricks-and-mortar spot.

Just this week, Mahalaha unveiled Chutney Rolls at 2218 Murray Hill Road (216-721-2295, in Little Italy, in a pleasant storefront that was home to Teahouse Noodles.

"I'm a Case grad and I have always been passionate about this area," says Mahalaha." It makes sense for us to be a part of this community."

The heart of this quick-casual operation are the chutney rolls, an American-style spin that takes chewy, flaky paratha bread and uses it as wrap for Indian fillings like chicken tikka, paneer and spinach, and lamb korma. Those same fillings can also be ordered in a rice bowl or salad bowl, an increasingly common trend inspired by Chipotle.

"We take all the flavors, spices, and elements of Indian cuisine and combine them into wraps, bowls and salads," explains Mahalaha. "You will not see this in any other Indian restaurant."

The cute café would do well to approach its operations a bit more like a restaurant and less like a food cart. A pair of crisp potato and pea samosas ($1.50) are served on top of (not alongside) two chutneys in a Styrofoam bowl, soaking up both whether you like the sauces or not.

A spinach and paneer wrap ($5.95) could be more aggressively seasoned, but the filling is hot and plentiful, and the paratha bread is crisp, flaky and delicious.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, Chutney Rolls will offer four standard and two special items daily. Chicken tikka is dry-rubbed and marinated in yogurt, garlic, and herbs. Lamb korma is marinated for 48 hours before it's cooked. Some of the dishes are vegan and vegetarian. Drinks include masala chai and sweet lassis.

"We want to cater to the whole spectrum," says Mahalaha.

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Sensational Summer: 48 of Cleveland's Best Summer Photos

Posted on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Summer may be coming to an end *sniff* but that doesn't mean we can't relive the season's highlights.

Here are 48 of the best photos from our sensational summer in Cleveland.

Want to make this last weekend of summer one for the books?

Check out our list of 14 things you must do before summer ends.

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Melt's First Major Menu Change, Columbus Opening Date Revealed

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 11:24 AM


Almost since the beginning, Melt Bar & Grilled has been accumulating sandwiches like a music fan collects used vinyl. It was always front man Matt Fish's goal to assemble a collection of 36 unique sandwiches — and that's precisely how many currently are on the menu.

At least until September 3, when Melt rolls out its first major menu overhaul in seven years.

"We've decided to take the plunge and move to a smaller, more specialized seasonal menu, and committing to changing our menu every three months," explains Fish.

Instead of a 36-sandwich menu that barely budges, the new menu lists just 20, with sandwiches selected for their season-appropriate flavor profiles. Popular specials like the New Bomb Turkey, which had been available just one month a year, will be added to the regular seasonal menu and be available for three months.

In addition to making the selection process easier for guests, the change will make reading the menu easier as well. If you've dined at Melt, you know that the menu is affixed to the back of a rock 'n' roll LP. More items meant smaller print.

"The menu has gotten bigger and bigger but the 12-by-12 record album has stayed exactly the same size," says Fish. "The menu is now easier to read with a larger print size."

Other changes include new starters and salads and the removal of signature burgers. Don't worry; burgers are still available, but now they are billed as "Choose Your Own Fate," with diners picking beef or veggie, regular or rubbed, preferred temp, choice of cheese and other toppings.

In other Melt news, Fish has revealed for the first time the opening date of the Columbus store, which will take place November 1. The restaurant, located in the heart of the Short North, will hold a hiring fair in that city September 23-24 for all positions but management.

"I think we're going to fit in really well down there," says Fish. "There's nobody doing what we're doing, and our price points, flavors and portions are all a good fit. Our brand is really strong, even in Columbus."

When Columbus opens, Melt will have five restaurants and employee approximately 360 people.

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25 Photos from the Spring and Summer's Biggest Concerts

Posted on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 10:46 AM

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