Monday, July 24, 2017

Xinji Noodle Bar in Ohio City Set to Open July 26

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 8:44 PM

Back in January we shared the news about Shuxin Liu’s plans to open Xinji Noodle Bar, a Japanese-style ramen shop at 4211 Lorain Ave. Following a quiet soft opening, the Ohio City eatery will open to the public on July 26.

Liu, a cook of two years at Momocho, has created an attractive space on Lorain Avenue that complements nearby businesses like Platfom, The Grocery, Herb'n Twine, the Plum, Jack Flaps, Forest City Shuffleboard and Ohio City Provisions. Blonde wood countertops, open shelving and contemporary lighting combine to create a peaceful, elegant room.

  • Michael Killik
The concise menu features Korean fried chicken, steamed buns filled with pork belly, braised pork or fried chicken, rice bowls topped with smoked eel or pork chops, and a half-dozen noodle bowls such as pork miso, dan dan noodle in chicken broth, and a vegan mushroom broth with nori.

“Noodles are my favorite thing,” Liu told Scene. “I’ve wanted to do a noodle bar for six years. In the beginning, we will be highly focused on ramen, but will branch out to Southeast Asian style noodle and Northern Chinese style noodle.”

  • Michael Killik
Also, he intends to expand the menu from just ramen, Korean-style fried chicken and steamed buns to include small entrée dishes as he grows the business.

The 100-seat restaurant features an open kitchen and seating in a small dining room, at the bar, and at window seats facing Lorain.

Xinji, Liu explains, means “new opportunity.”

The restaurant will be dinner-only Tuesday through Saturday, but will offer an Asian-inspired Sunday brunch.
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Space: ROCK Gallery to Open Burlesque Photo Exhibit in August

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 4:30 PM

  • Emanuel Wallace
Six years ago, Bella Sin, founder of the locally based burlesque troupe Le Femme Mystique, began hosting the Ohio Burlesque Festival, a three-day event featuring regional, national and international talent.

Next month, Space: ROCK Gallery, the gallery located next to the Beachland, the site of this year's event, will host All That Glitters: Burlesque at the Beachland, an exhibit featuring photos of the event taken by Eric Paul Owens, Anastasia Pantsios, Bob Perkoski and Scene staff photographer ad Emanuel Wallace.

Continue reading »

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Former MetroHealth Employee Indicted For Stealing $300K From Case Western Reserve Research Grants

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 4:10 PM

  • photo via Case Western Reserve/Facebook
Cleveland resident and former MetroHealth grant specialist Carol Lott is charged with stealing almost $300,000 worth of grant money from Case Western Reserve.

Lott, 53, worked alongside East Cleveland resident Andrea Mittman-Thomas, to manipulate the grant process and funnel the university's money into a shell corporation. The pair is facing dozens of felony charges, including aggravated theft and money laundering.

Case Western pours millions of dollars in grants per year to various organizations for research and other purposes. Therefore, grants under $5,000 are not usually investigated, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Jim Gutierrez told  

Lott and Mittman-Thomas worked carefully, submitting invoices under $5,000 to the university for a period of three years. By April 2016, their shell company accumulated close to $150,000.

In addition to invoice money, the duo requested gift cards from Case Western Reserve, which grew to about $140,000.

In April 2016, under the watch of a new supervisor, Case Western's grant department noticed the irregular transactions and contacted MetroHealth.

Lott and Mittman-Thomas are expected in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Aug. 3.

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Rick's Cafe to Close July 25; New Eatery to Open in 60 to 90 Days

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Partners Michael Schwartz and Shawn Monday had every intention of keeping Rick’s Café alive and open through the end of summer at least. The team, which also operates the restaurants One Red Door, Flip Side and 3 Palms, purchased the iconic 40-year-old Chagrin Falls eatery last month with plans to eventually install a new concept.

“This is the first time we ever purchased an existing restaurant,” says Schwartz. “We wanted to keep it going because summer, financially, is great. Plus, we wanted to introduce ourselves to the community, talk to guests, learn what items people would never want to see leave the menu, and evaluate the staff.”

Management and staff all agreed on a late-summer closing, adds Schwartz, but a rash of walk outs and no-shows from employees forced his hand.

“We don’t want to give bad service, that’s not who we are, so we made the decision to close now,” he explains.

Schwartz says that it will take him 60 to 90 days to make all of the necessary improvements to the old building before launching his and Monday’s new concept, which he intends to keep under wraps for the time being.

“I have a very clear vision of what I plan to do,” he says. “It will remain a neighborhood gathering place that will incorporate some of the flavors found at the places that we currently have in our other facilities like One Red Door, 3 Palms as well as a couple of Rick’s classics like the ribs and coleslaw."

The crew will transform the dining room with a lot of natural, reclaimed materials like wide-plank floors, live-edge timber bar tops, and exposed brick. Crews will also update the bathrooms, expand and improve the kitchen, and jettison the six or seven microwave ovens that did much of the “cooking.”

“It will have an earthy always-been-there feel,” Schwartz says of the new restaurant.
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Ohio's Medical Marijuana Program Will Likely Expand to $11 Million

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 3:28 PM

The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program was allotted $5 million last month in the state budget, and today the Ohio Department of Commerce and State Board of Pharmacy intend on requesting $5.6 million more.

The nearly $11 million total, Ohio regulators say, is necessary to cover a medical marijuana tracking database, a toll-free help line and legal costs expected to stem from issues about Ohio's licensing laws.

Currently, Ohio legally lets people with medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, Crohn's disease and 18 others purchase and use marijuana, if advised by a physician (many of whom are not keen on getting licenses that allow them to prescribe the drug.)

Ohio legalized medical marijuana last year, making it the 28th state to do so. In a speech back in May, Ohio Supreme Court Justice (and likely 2018 candidate for governor) William O'Neill endorsed marijuana legalization in the state, as well as the removal of "all non-violent marijuana offenders" from prison.

“The time has come for new thinking,” O'Neill said in a speech. “We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass."

Since the legislation is relatively new, the state is still figuring out how it can be fully implemented. Last month, 185 people applied for licenses to grow marijuana, which meant $2.3 million in fees contributed to the state. Ohio is expected to grant 24 licenses total, half for large growing spaces ($200,000 to renew each year) and half for smaller ones ($20,000.)

State agencies have laid out a plan for spending the $11 million they'll request today; the Department of Commerce estimates they'll put almost $7 million toward payroll, supplies and other services, plus legal expenses. The Board of Pharmacy expects to spend around $4 million total, primarily on payroll and establishing dispensary locations.

If all goes according to the state's current plan, these dispensaries will be available by September 2018.
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Clevelanders React to Twist Creative's 'Pickles' and 'Butter' Billboards Around Town

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 3:11 PM

Two of Twist Creative's billboards seen around Cleveland, designed to provoke conversation. - PHOTO VIA TWIST CREATIVE/FACEBOOK
  • Photo via Twist Creative/Facebook
  • Two of Twist Creative's billboards seen around Cleveland, designed to provoke conversation.
A strange series of billboards have popped up around Cleveland this summer. They contain one word, an item you would typically find on a grocery list, along with a beautiful landscape portrait in the background and a small URL at the bottom.

Twist Creative, the Cleveland ad agency behind the billboards, says the series is meant to provoke conversation.

“Any good conversation needs a conversation starter,” Twist CEO, Mike Ozan recently explained to Adweek. “There is no better role for outdoor billboards than sparking an interest and simply suggesting a ‘want.'”

Going to the URL provided on the billboards leads to a series of questions intended to give feedback for Twist's experiment. They ask which billboard you saw, what it brought to mind and if you had a conversation about them with anyone else, among others.

Since Twist started the project, they have reported a 22 percent increase in site traffic and "a 50 percent increase in résumé submissions, even though it wasn’t expressly a recruiting campaign," according to Adweek.

Twist also shared what Clevelanders had to say about each of the signs with Adweek.

Here are some of the words Clevelanders would like to see on future Twist billboards:
-Tampons (again)
- And "The word doesn't matter"

  • Photo via Twist Creative/Facebook
When people looked at the billboard that read "butter" some thoughts that came to their minds were "toast," "that's odd," "camping" and "giggles." Some people said they did have a conversation about the billboard while others said they did not, even though they have driven past it multiple times.

You can read more about what Clevelanders had to say about Twist's campaign here.
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As It Faces an Uncertain Future, the Coventry PEACE Campus Hosts a Community Weekend of Events

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 2:33 PM


Stating the building needs $1 million in repairs (including $750,000 for a new roof), city officials in Cleveland Heights announced plans in May to sell and redevelop the former Coventry School site, six acres in total, including the building, playground, field and sledding hill. The unexpected announcement came as quite a surprise to the building’s 11 tenants: all nonprofit organizations, such as its oldest tenant, Ensemble Theatre, and newest tenant, Artful Cleveland, which has invested $25,000 into renovating most of the building’s second floor into 18 artist studios within the past year. Ensemble Theatre estimates it has invested $40,000 to $60,000 into converting the former gymnasium into a 99-seat theatre and a kindergarten classroom into a smaller performance space. Anyone who has ever been involved with fundraising tens of thousands of dollars can attest to the “sweat equity” required to do so.

A strange time to announce plans to redevelop the property, it is the first time the site has been filled to or near capacity since the building’s conversion. The issue is complex, with valid arguments on both sides. On one hand, the city and school district find themselves in a difficult position. The 41-year-old building is not included in the CH-UH Permanent Improvement Budget, so the money for repairs would have to come from money dedicated to the district’s current school buildings. Not easy for any district, but especially one currently in the middle of extensive renovations to multiple school buildings, including its high school.

However, the abruptness of the initial announcement was troubling to both residents and the leadership of the building’s resident organizations. At first, the organizations were given month-to-month leases, but after a joint meeting between City Council and the school board, tenants successfully argued for year-long leases and requested a six-month notice to vacate after the building sells. For many of the building’s tenants, the uncertainty of month-to-month leases would most certainly hinder the organizations from scheduling a whole school year, or even a theater production beyond 30 days at any given point.
Even with their year-long leases, and even as they continue to fight to prove their value to the city while continuing their day-to-day operations, the building’s tenants must still begin to plan for the (seemingly) inevitable.

Banding together, the organizations of the Coventry School site and Coventry PEACE (People Enhancing A Community’s Environment) have rebranded themselves as the Coventry PEACE Campus. In addition to Ensemble Theatre and Artful, the site’s tenants include: Cleveland Heights High School Alumni Foundation, Connections, Coventry Village Children's Center, Family Connections, Lake Erie Ink, FutureHeights, Sherri Skedel, Urban Oak School and Wingspan.

“While we are hopeful that the future of the site could include our organizations, we are currently in a position where we are being told that we have to vacate the building no later than June 30th, 2018,” says Artful board president Brady Dindia. “This means that we all must begin searching for new locations to house our businesses. ARTFUL and Ensemble Theater have the unique issues of needing to find large, open spaces and do new build-outs in new spaces which, depending on timing, means down time for our organizations and capital campaigns. While we all expect to continue our services during this process, it is a challenge and is demanding of time and resource”

A truly grassroots effort, organizers have enlisted the help of longtime residents such as board member of Ensemble Theatre Jack Valancy, attorney and former vice mayor of Cleveland Heights Lee A. Chilcote, architect Paul Volpe and city planner Robert Brown. Both Volpe and Brown are also on FutureHeights’ board of directors. Together, the organizations are gathering information and feedback from the community and preparing a proposal of potential resolutions in advance of the city’s Request for Qualifications and Preliminary Development Proposals for redeveloping the site into a “residential/mixed-use” space with “income-producing assets.”

“With combined budgets of more than $3 million per year, Coventry School Tenants withhold payroll taxes for 82 employees. Ensemble Theatre and FutureHeights alone pay another 124 independent contractors,” Valancy told Cleveland Heights City Council at a meeting on June 5. “Coventry School Tenants engage more than 2,000 volunteers, provide direct services to more than 5,000 people, and affect close to 90,000. And then there’s the synergy with the Coventry PEACE playground and park, the Coventry branch of Heights Libraries, and the Coventry SID.”

At a July 17 City Council Meeting, Valancy shared the results of a recent survey conducted with 242 residents. According to Valancy, the survey found that 75 percent of families have used the playground equipment and participated in activities offered by the Coventry PEACE Campus tenants. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they were aware of the city’s plans to sell the site, and 96 percent felt the city should “enable a meaningful engagement of the Coventry School site redevelopment.” Also during the July 17 City Council meeting, three young ladies, Jana, Chloe and Sophia, presented 529 signatures for a petition “in support of the Coventry Playground and PEACE Park remaining an active community space for kids and adults to enjoy.” The girls helped lead a kids-organized effort to gather signatures and (hopefully) save their park.

At this uncertain time for all parties involved, the organizations host a Coventry PEACE Campus Community Weekend from Thursday, July 27, to Sunday, July 30. The most important event kicks things off on Thursday evening. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, the Cleveland Heights Community Center (1 Monticello Blvd., Cleveland Heights) hosts a City Council open forum for residents to share opinions and comments about the development of the Coventry School site with city officials. This important meeting is scheduled in anticipation of the release of a Request for Qualifications draft to be released by the city regarding the proposed development.

“We’re excited to give people from the greater Heights area a weekend filled with art, music and a chance to discuss the future of the Arts in Cleveland Heights,” says Dindia. “It’s a great opportunity for people to come out and see what all our great organizations have to offer, and what we ultimately bring to our diverse community. With the support of the wonderful merchants up and down Coventry Road, the Coventry SID, and the Coventry Branch of the Cleveland Heights Library, there will be something for everyone to enjoy and take part in. Community Weekend is a magnificent example of how local business, nonprofits, and residents can come together to add entertainment value, cultural value, and improve the overall environment of their community.
It’s a true example of PEACE - People Enhancing A Community’s Environment. And I believe all who participate will leave feeling even more proud of the part they play (and the parts these organizations play) in their community.”

Following the meeting, return to PEACE Park for a family-friendly screening of Power Rangers at 9 p.m. On Friday, all the tenants of the Coventry School Building host an open house at 7 p.m. The evening includes a free concert and happy hour in Pekar Park, as well as a performance by Swing State at the Coventry School Building. The fun continues bright-and-early at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning with playground clean-up and community picnic in PEACE Park. Bring a dish to share and enjoy activities and live music from Eve ‘N’ Stephen.

The weekend concludes with a performance by Triage and a Common Ground Community Discussion at Ensemble Theatre. In partnership with the Cleveland Foundation, this community-wide event takes place at venues throughout Cuyahoga County. Ensemble Theatre’s event discusses the future of the Coventry School site.

Organizations from throughout Cuyahoga County are partnering with the Cleveland Foundation for an unprecedented community-wide conversation at venues throughout the city. On a single day, Sunday, July 30, residents will come together to meet, share a meal, connect and discuss issues and solutions to create a better future for our shared home, or “common ground.” The biggest of these events will take place in Public Square, but additional venues include the Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Beach House, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, the Parma-Snow Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library and many more. Local organizations and residents are encouraged to host their own meetings as well. For more information on how to join a table or host a meeting, visit All events are free, but registration for Common Ground is required.

For information on this weekend’s events, the future of the Coventry School Building and how you can get involved, visit
(Artful Cleveland) 2843 Washington Blvd.,
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