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Breaking Ground

Chef-owned City Diner to offer up fresh homemade classics in Old Brooklyn


Ed “Chef Ed” Michalski has opened more than 40 restaurants in his career, but when he opens the doors to The City Diner in the next few weeks, it will be the first time the food service veteran does so as the owner.

“I just want to make sure everything is perfect,” Michalski says. “When guests walk in for the first time, I want to knock their socks off. You never get a second chance.”
 
Michalski cites his roles as executive chef at places like Horseshoe Casino and Progressive Field as “very proud moments,” but when he saw the former Expressway Diner building at 5109 Memphis Ave. in Old Brooklyn, he says he knew he had to buy the building and go into business for himself.
 
“There comes a point in a chef’s career when you have to make a decision about how you want to take care of people and make the kind of food you want to make,” he says, adding he spotted the vacant diner while driving home from a friend’s house to his home in Parma Heights.
 
“It was too pretty to leave closed,” he says.  “My father grew up here and my grandfather had the corner butcher store on Gifford [Avenue], which is serendipitous. I’m very happy and very proud to be in Old Brooklyn.”
 
The 3,000-square-foot diner is “deceptively large,” says Michalski, and seats 125 to 130 people. The 28-foot kitchen hood is equipped with double-stack convection ovens, flat grills, a sauté station and deep fryers.
 
Michalski will serve American cuisine — all made from scratch. “Every soup and sauce will be made from homemade stock and we cut all our own meat and fish,” he boasts, adding that he’s partnered with local food purveyors such as Cake Royale, Lou’s Sausage and Mazzone & Sons Bakery.
 
The menu runs the gamut of traditional American diner food — from dinner salads and soups of the day to loaded burgers and sandwiches to full-on entrees. The all-day breakfast menu features everything from three varieties of Eggs Benedict, omelets and skillets to pancakes and breakfast sweets.
 
Michalski’s favorites include the Mac ‘N Cheese Burger, where the “bun” is made of friend macaroni and cheese and the burger is topped with garlic mayonnaise, sriracha ketchup, red onion and bacon; the pierogis, kraut & kielbasa; and the Yankee Pot Roast served with Yorkshire pudding.
 
For breakfast, Michalski predicts the bananas foster stuffed French toast will be a hit. “The menu will change seasonally,” he adds.
 
Throughout preparations for the forthcoming launch, Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC) has been supporting the entrepreneur through inspections and with marketing for the new endeavor.
 
The City Diner will be open Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and host a Sunday buffet from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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