Wednesday, August 22, 2018

First Look: Ninja City, Just Days from Opening in Gordon Square

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 5:38 PM

When Bac Nguyen and partner Dylan Fallon closed Ninja City in University Circle back in February, they estimated that it would be a few short months before the crew was back at work in the new and improved Gordon Square location. Then again, the process always takes longer than owners would like.

“There were some challenges,” Fallon says diplomatically. “We didn’t think we would have this long of a gap between one and the other based on the amount of construction we had.”

Other than some equipment upgrades in the kitchen, the former Old City Libations space in Detroit Shoreway needed only some cosmetic tweaks to give it that “comic books meets hip-hop” look that will be familiar to Ninja City (6706 Detroit Ave., 216-862-7200) fans. Graphic artwork, graffiti-style murals, comic book-style menus, and a small portion of Nguyen’s sizeable action figure collection brighten up the 2,500-square-foot storefront space.

While the general layout is the same, with the bar taking up a back wall and corner, the space feels smaller and more intimate thanks to a new wall that separates the kitchen and restrooms. Paneling was removed to expose some structural terra cotta bricks. A new backbar with roughhewn barn beams was added. With seating for about 70, the space is slightly smaller than the original Ninja City but more unified and open.

As one would expect, the menu offers tastes of both Bac, which closed soon after Ninja City in advance of the move, and Ninja City. But don’t expect a straightforward mashup of the menus, says Fallon.

“There’s quite a bit of an overhaul in terms of the menu,” he says. “We wanted to keep some of the dishes that we think are important, but we added quite a bit to make this place more accessible to the neighborhood. We thought that was super important.”

To start or snack, there’s edamame, spring rolls, green papaya salad, and potstickers, but also chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and lemon grass shrimp quesadillas. Bento boxes allow diners to mix and match three or four items in one, well, box.

To slurp, there are bowls of ramen and pho, joined by steak and egg topped rice bowls, chicken or tofu capped rice noodle bowls, steam buns, banh mi sandwiches, and Korean lettuce wraps with a choice of meaty fillings. Those items join more “accessible” dishes like a Philly cheesesteak, chicken and waffles, fish and chips, and Po’ Boy sandwich, all with some Asian twists.

On draft are 12 beers and two boozes; yep, Irish whiskey and tequila will flow straight from the taps. An additional 25 beers will be in bottles and cans, while creative cocktails are also on the roster.

While the space is new, Fallon says that regulars will spot many familiar faces in terms of staff and management.

“It’s important for us to stay with and support the people who have been loyal to us,” he says. “I don’t know what we would have done if we had to start from scratch.”

If all goes as hoped, Ninja City could open sometime next week (or very soon thereafter). 

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5 Concerts to Catch in Cleveland This Weekend

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 5:24 PM

  • Robert Ciolfi

Great Lake Swimmers/Native Harrow

The Toronto-based indie rock act Great Lake Swimmers comes to town tonight on a tour that celebrates its 15th anniversary. The band just issued The Waves, the Wake, a gorgeous sounding album that it recorded in a church. The hushed vocals on opening track, “The Talking Wind,” carry some real weight even if the sparse tune relies only on a simple keyboard riff and cooing backing vocals. The group effectively turns up the twang on “Alone But Not Alone” and expertly layers the textured tune "The Open Sea." (Jeff Niesel), 8:30 p.m., $15 ADV, $18 DOS. Beachland Tavern.

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Report Details Massive Benefits of Ohio's Medicaid Expansion

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 1:56 PM

  • Pixabay

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. John Kasich went against the wishes of some people in his own political party when he expanded Medicaid in 2014. Now, years later, a new assessment indicates the decision has paid off for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans.

As a followup to a 2016 report, the Ohio Department of Medicaid released a new assessment of the program that showed expansion helps reduce the uninsured rate, improve health outcomes and facilitate employment.

As executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, Steve Wagner said the findings are not surprising.

"The results confirmed everything that we have heard from individuals who've told their stories," he said. "It has made a huge impact on people's financial well-being, on their family stability and, most important, on their health."

Nearly 30 percent of enrollees reported improvement in their financial situation since enrolling, and more than half of parents said expansion helped them afford food and rent. The report says about 94 percent of enrollees were employed, attending school, serving as a primary caretaker, in treatment for addition or have another debilitating health issue.

About 640,000 Ohioans are part of the Medicaid expansion.

The report showed that expansion has increased access to primary care and reduced the use of emergency rooms, improving mental health and helping address such health risks as smoking. Wagner said it's crucial that Ohioans are aware of expansion and its benefits.

"Still, making sure that people are aware that this expansion is there is important," he said, "because the study also showed many people weren't necessarily aware of when they were and were not covered by health care under Medicaid."

Ohio adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for coverage through Medicaid expansion. Since expansion began, at least 1.2 million Ohioans have received coverage at some point in time.

The report is online at medicaid.ohio.gov/reports.

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Jeremy Paris, of Public Square Fame, Returning to Cleveland to Open Branch of National Consulting Firm

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 12:01 PM

I see London, I see... Paris.
  • I see London, I see... Paris.
Jeremy Paris, the Ivy League-pedigreed dude who headed the Group Plan Commission during the Public Square transformation, will be returning to Cleveland to open a satellite office of a national public policy consultancy.

The Raben Group, based in Washington, D.C., is the nation's largest majority-minority firm of its kind. They announced today that Paris would be joining the firm as Principal.

“The timing could not be better to have someone of Jeremy’s caliber join us,” said the firm's President and Founder Robert Raben, in a statement. “He brings a practical sensibility for how to work with others to get things done, plus the expertise to translate the impact of federal policy on local communities. When you combine all that with his core commitment to Cleveland, we’re fortunate to have him charting our expansion into the Midwest.”

Paris spoke to Scene Tuesday and said that he's excited to be back full-time in Cleveland after splitting time between Cleveland and D.C. for the past two years. In D.C., he served as a special counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee — "wonky policy stuff that I love," Paris said. And in Cleveland, he worked as an advisor for University Circle Inc. as the east side CDC developed its long-term strategic plan.

Paris said that the Raben Group's core values and practice areas, including civil rights and LGBTQ issues, were what drew him to the firm and validated his assumption that they belonged in Cleveland.

"It's coalition building and strategic planning with nonprofits," said Paris. "Some of the work is political — lobbying and policy — but this work has social impact. The Raben Group does diversity, equity and inclusion really well. I think, in Cleveland, there's an opportunity to use our cultural resources to tell stories as a form of advocacy. This is a major, innovative D.C. firm. And their values align with my own."

The office, for now, will consist of Paris alone, but he didn't rule out the possibility of additional employees as he builds a client list over the next few months. He said he plans to start meeting with local organizations almost immediately. 

"It's not that there aren't people doing this sort of work in Cleveland already, and doing it really well," Paris said. "For me, it's bringing a lot of these strands together, doing impactful work across a wide of variety of areas. And I'm embedded in Cleveland. I know the layered way that things get done around here: public sector, private sector, nonprofits..."

On the policy side, Paris noted that he was particularly interested in public transit.

"I got radicalized on this around the Public Square issue," he said. "You cannot run an effective system with the level of funding that Ohio has. You just can't. And if you look at smart cities, smart states, they're investing in public transit. I plan on calling up those [transit] organizations and saying, 'how can I work with you.' Some of that might be lobbying. But lobbying doesn't just happen when you make phone calls. It needs to happen at the grassroots: Tell stories. Make change."

The Raben Group has offices in D.C., New York, L.A. and El Paso, Texas. Cleveland will be the firm's first Midwest outpost.

"It's an experiment for them," Paris admitted. "But they believe in me. Now I just need to prove that it was a good idea." 

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Thompson Twins Singer Tom Bailey, Who Plays the Kent Stage Next Week, Gets Conceptual on His New Solo Album

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 10:54 AM

  • James Cumpsty
During a recent phone conversation, Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins fame, lays out a story that’s just one memorable example of why David Bowie became an international superstar.

“I met him once at a concert that we did together and that’s all. It’s interesting, actually, because I did this concert, a big, big concert back in the ’80s and afterwards, everyone said, ‘Did you meet him? Did you talk to him?’ I said ‘no’ because he arrived by car, and his limousine drove right onto the stage. He got out, I happened to be standing there, he just kind of nodded and then he walked up to the microphone and started singing,” Bailey recalls. He performs at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at the Kent Stage. “At the end of his show, he walked away from the microphone, got into the car and then drove away, so he didn’t speak to anyone there. I was thinking about this the other day, I thought, that actually is a way of making a gig exciting. It’s not being there for the build-up, but arriving seconds before you’ve got to be brilliant.”

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NuJoy Brings New Joys to Uptown in the Form of Chinese Street Foods

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 10:39 AM

Just in time for the new school year, a new dining option has sprung to life near the campus of Case Western Reserve University. NuJoy (11311 Euclid Ave.) has opened in the space previously occupied by Ninja City, which closed in preparation of a move to Gordon Square in late winter.

This new casual restaurant further establishes this off-campus neighborhood as a sort of Asiatown East, with more than a half dozen options offering everything from sushi to ramen. NuJoy follows in the footsteps of places like LJ Shanghai, Phusian and Han that veer away from conventional Asian-American staples and toward more authentic regional cuisine. It also follows in its predecessor’s footsteps by sticking with the “bar with food” format.

The playful brick-and-steel-trimmed industrial space features a first floor bar and lounge that leads to an elevated dining room in the rear. A street-side patio bumps the occupancy up to about 75.

Owners Bowen and Lindsay Sun, who are partners in Szechuan Café at the Asia Plaza, offer up a street food-style menu that’s ideal for snacking and pairing with cold beer and cocktails. Nearly a dozen grilled kebabs, served in threes, are priced at $6 or $7. The ubiquitous lamb kebabs, slender pieces of meat redolent of cumin and peppercorn, are joined by skewered chicken, squid, sausage and off cuts like lamb kidneys.

The heart of the concise menu is populated by dumplings, buns and noodle bowls, largely priced between $6 and $8. Fried dumplings are stuffed with pork and celery or beef and carrots; baked buns are filled with grilled lamb or braised pork belly; and noodles arrive in the form of tongue-tingling cold Szechuan noodles, soybean-slicked noodles with pork, and savory beef noodle soup.

For larger appetites – or to share with mates – there are a couple entrees like a Szechuan-style hot pot loaded with shrimp, Chinese sausage, and fish balls, and a cumin-scented lamb stir-fry.

To drink, there is draft and bottled beer, wines by the glass, and a handful of classic cocktails.

For now, NuJoy is open for dinner and late-night bites Monday through Saturday.

Honor the Greatest Cleveland Movie of All Time With the 'Major League' Collection from RSVLTS Clothing

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 10:37 AM

  • Courtesy of RSVLTS Men & Women's Clothing

With the exception of officially licensed professional sports apparel, it's usually pretty difficult to find CLE-centric clothing outside of our local T-shirt companies like CLE Clothing Co., Kay-Em Apparel and Fresh Brewed Tees (just to name a few).

The rest of the world doesn't appreciate or glorify Cleveland they way they do Chicago, New York or Los Angeles, so whenever someone does shine a light on the incredible cultural contributions The Land has made, it's a cause for celebration.

The Roosevelts (commonly referred to as RSVLTS) Clothing Company first gained popularity with a collection of button-ups and t-shirts celebrating the baseball classic The Sandlot. The ability for people to walk into a business-casual situation with a dreambabe Wendy Peppercorn pattern was undeniably popular. In the wake of the line's success, RSVLTS has introduced another baseball classic, with an officially licensed line of apparel in honor of Major League.

Major League is perhaps the most iconic "Cleveland" film of all time, debuting at No. 1 at the box office and currently boasting an 82 percent "fresh" rating on review website Rotten Tomatoes. The American Film Institute named it as one of the Top 10 Sports Movies of all time in 2008.

In addition to the classy "Wild Thing" button up, as shown in the photo above, RSVLTS has also nabbed the licensing rights to an official Jobu T-Shirt, so you can remind everyone of the dangers of stealing Jobu's rum. The famous Hawk-Ball Indians' logo from the film is also emblazoned across a T-shirt, as is an official 'Wild Thing' tee.

Unfortunately, the killer embroidered hats of the Hawk-Ball and Jobu are currently out of stock, but would make excellent replacements for Chief Wahoo ball caps.

Check out the RSVLTS website for all of the Major League apparel as well as their other lines featuring Rookie of the Year, Rocky, Bob Ross and The Sandlot

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