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ODOT conducts George Voinovich Bridge construction tours

Twice a month through September, the Ohio Department of Transportation is conducting free hard hat tours of the George Voinovich Bridge construction area. Tours are rain or shine, although if the weather becomes overly inclement, the event will be cancelled.

Tours are conducted by Trumball-Great Lakes-Ruhlin (TGR), a joint venture between Trumbull Corporation, Great Lakes Construction Company and the Ruhlin Company, which was the successful bidder on the $273 million project that included demolition of the existing 1959 Innerbelt Bridge and the construction of a new, five lane, eastbound structure. The project is slated for completion this fall.

Attendees walk the entire construction site and hear insider details about things such as the steel I-beams that support the concrete pilings, or the "HP18 x 204's," wherein the H indicates the shape, the 18 refers to an 18" measurement on the piling and the 204 indicates 204 pounds-per-foot.

"These piles come in at 90 feet long," said Karen Lenehan, public information consultant for TGLR, during a tour last week. "They're the largest piles manufactured in United States." She adds that the pilings are required to be driven down to bedrock some 200 feet below ground. They must be hammered twenty times with industrial driving equipment in order to move just one inch.

"How do you know when you reach bedrock?" mused Lenehan. "When you hit it twenty times and it doesn't move."

Lenehan also offered comprehensive details on the giant 28- by 28- by 10-foot concrete footers; the prominent concrete columns, which are hollow and include inspection doors; the steel knuckles, tension ties, deltas, bridge bearings and deck girders; and the permanent catwalks that web the area under the deck of the bridge, among other components.

Lenehan also told the tale of how the entire project was nearly held hostage by a pair of mating Peregrine falcons that threatened to delay the demolition of the old bridge. Fortunately, the babies learned to fly ahead of a critical date and vacated the nest.

"We got the okay," recalled Lenehan of getting the thumbs-up from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources when the junior falcons took flight. "We could go ahead with our big explosive demolition on July 12, 2014."

Other softer details of note include a forthcoming fish habitat that will be similar to one that was constructed for the westbound bridge. The protected area is essentially fenced off from the rest of the river by a slotted barrier and is planted with vegetation the fish can eat.

"Fish can swim out of the way of the freighters," said Lenehan. "They can rest; they can feed, and then they can swim back out."

Also included in the project is a protected area for humans - for walking, biking and running. The contract includes extending the southern terminus of the all-purpose trail along Scranton Flats to a point adjacent to Sokolowski's Inn, as well as a new green space for Tremont.

"We get sustainability points for that," said Lenehan, noting that those points are part of a formal sustainability component of the contract.

Lastly at the conclusion of the tour, attendees are given packages of commemorative mints that are shaped like tiny cars.

Registration for the free tours, which fill up quickly, is required and does not start until the beginning of each respective month. Details available here.
 

$4 million expansion coming to University Heights Library

In 2010, the University Heights branch of Heights Libraries began talking to community members about what improvements they wanted to see in the now 64-year-old library at 13866 Cedar Road.

After some talk and initial planning, library officials conducted surveys at various locales including the library, neighboring Whole Foods and John Carroll University.
 
“Participation wasn’t heavy, but there was repetition of key points, so we knew we were on the right track," says Heights Libraries director Nancy Levin, noting that lack of a rear entrance by the parking area was a familiar complaint. "People wanted to see us solve the back door problem, and we knew the building needed updates and repairs.”

The main entrance will be moved to the rear of the building, with new glass panels to be installed in the front. A side entrance with a ramp on Fenwick Road will also be added. 
 
In addition to obvious work such as updating the HVAC and electrical system, making the building energy efficient, fixing roof leaks and installing ADA-compliant bathrooms, the survey led to plans for a fully functional elevator, an easily-accessible back door and children's and teen areas.
 
The $4 million project will add 5,282 square feet to the existing building, which will bring the total space to 10,500 square feet. The cost of the project has already been worked into Heights Library's budget.
 
The lower level will include a dedicated area for kids with a story room, teen space, meeting rooms and ADA compliant bathrooms. The new children’s area and elevators will make a family trip to the library much easier, says Levin. “It’s obvious when you have a stroller and go downstairs for story time, or go down with a toddler who is potty training,” she notes of the current situation.
 
The upper level will have large meeting rooms, independent study rooms and bathrooms. The book collection will be split up, with children’s books going to the children’s area and adult books going to an adult section upstairs.
 
The new HVAC system is in dire need of replacement. “Now we have many systems that have been added, with multiple air conditioning and multiple heating [systems],” says Levin. “It will certainly save us in the cost of operating with a modern, efficient system that turns up during the day and down at night.”
 
The library has purchased three houses on Fenwick Road, which were sold willingly by the owners for $140,000 each. They will be demolished to make way for the addition. A new parking lot will provide 10 additional parking spaces, which will increase from 37 to 47.

Levin also hopes to add a patio off of the new addition. “We’re creating something beautiful for the community and it will become an asset,” she says. “It won’t be a park, but it will be really nice.”
 
This summer, a citizens' landscape committee will discuss ideas for trees and a garden sculpture at the bus stop in front of the library. “There will be a neighborhood component,” Levin says.
 
CBLH Design is the architect working on the project, while Regency Construction Services in Lakewood is managing construction. Plans will be finalized this summer with construction slated to begin in September. September 2017 is the estimated completion date.
 
Library officials a trying to find a temporary home during the renovation, but so far have had little luck. Levin says they want to stay close to their permanent location, to be accessible to library staff and patrons, many of whom rely on the bus to get to the library.
 
Levin says temporary space at Cedar Center may not be feasible because of long lease requirements and vacant space at University Square is in receivership.
 
“We have heard from a number of city officials with good suggestions but they haven't worked out yet because of location,” Levin explains. “We really need to stay in the Cedar-Warrensville area if at all possible. The alternative is to close the branch and store the materials but continue all of the programs in other locations.” 

Holzheimer Interiors carries on its century-old design tradition in new Larchmere home

Jackie Holzheimer fondly remembers spending afternoons at her family’s business at 10901 Carnegie Ave. as a fourteen-year-old, playing hide-and-go-seek, conducting treasure hunts and exploring the goods and fabrics of Holzheimer Interiors.
 
“I would go there on Saturdays and play designer,” she recalls. “It felt like a second home to me.”
 
Holzheimer Interiors was founded in 1902 by John Holzheimer as a store that specialized in interior and exterior residential painting. When his son, Frank, took over he added wall coverings to the company’s specialties. Frank’s sons in turn added furniture and custom cabinetry, upholstery and window treatments.
 
Holzheimer's aunt was a bookkeeper for the store. Her mother, Kathryn was a designer for the company and, although retired, still participates in operations and maintains her client connections.
 
As the fifth generation of Holzheimers to run the store, Jackie has transformed Holzheimer Interiors into a full-service design firm featuring the same quality and standards that established the company 114 years ago.
 
Long gone from its Carnegie Avenue home for 60-plus years, Holzheimer Interiors has always called Northeast Ohio home. In January Holzheimer opened the shop at 12733 Larchmere Blvd. in Shaker Heights in a 1920 store front that was once operated by the sisters of Shaker’s first mayor, William Van Aken.
 
"This, to me, is a nod to our history,” Holzheimer says of the new storefront, which, like the original Holzheimer store, has big windows that display changing vignettes of living areas.
 
Holzheimer moved into the 2,500-square-foot space the first of this year, taking some time to remodel it before she opened the doors to the public, who are invited by appointment only. A coat of paint and new lighting freshened the shop's look. Holzheimer is also having a replica of the store’s original sign at the Carnegie location made for the new Larchmere shop.
 
While updating the space, Holzheimer also discovered a pleasant surprise: the original maple hardwood floors. “When I pulled it up, I said ‘oh my god, we have to refinish this,’” she recalls.
 
Holzheimer installed four islands with white countertops as work areas. “There were certain things I knew I wanted to do with the floor plan, where things would be located,” she says. The large front windows and 10-foot ceilings provide plenty of natural light, while the off-white walls create a neutral palette for customers to evaluate different patterns and colors.
 
The open space allows Holzheimer and her designers to present different floor plans based on their clients’ room layouts – always presenting three distinctive options to each client. “There are thousands and thousands of options out there, so our philosophy is: have it be unique,” she explains. To that end, the store represents 3,000 manufacturers.
 
Holzheimer says she can work with any budget. “Our pricing is very competitive, or often cheaper, than the big box stores,” she boasts. “Everybody deserves good design,” she says. “You can have quality furniture that will last you for 25 years.” She travels all over to work with her clients, the vast majority of whom are referred by other clients. The firm does not advertise.
 
The lower level is reserved for an inventory of lamps, artwork and accessories to complete a room. “It gives an option,” explains Holzheimer. “That finishing touch of a room that bring it all together.”
 
While Holzheimer was previously based in Novelty, she says she chose Shaker Heights because of its history and retail neighbors that complement her business.
 
“Larchmere is a very fitting environment,” she says, adding that other area stores sell antiques, collectibles and Oriental rugs. “We’re a natural fit with our neighbors and all of us help one another.”

History and location notwithstanding, maintaining the Holzheimer Interiors reputation is the biggest priority for her. “To me, the history of the company is very important, the quality of the products and quality of service is very important,” she says.  

“Being fifth generation, I don’t know many people who have that legacy. I want to keep the name strong and keep that name alive.”

New Women's Business Center launches, offers tools for entrepreneurs

While Womenable’s April 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses report shows that women-owned firms are outpacing the national average in both job creation and revenue generation, just 27 percent of all firms in Ohio are owned by women, compared to the national average of 38 percent. Additionally, the report indicates that women are half as likely as men to start a business. 

The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) decided to do something to boost those numbers. In January 2015, the Cleveland ECDI opened a satellite office of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Columbus.
 
The satellite office was so well received that ECDI decided to open a full-fledged Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio in order to serve the entrepreneurial needs of women starting a new business.
 
“We were seeing so much demand, we went to the Small Business Administration (SBA) with a grant proposal and officially launched in October 2015,” explains Carrie Rosenfelt, the WBC director. “Since October 2015, we have provided training to over 150 women, one-on-one coaching to over 50 and created nearly 20 new jobs.”
 
The SBA granted the Cleveland center a total of $750,000 in financing – $150,000 a year over five years. Per the agreement, the center must raise a 50 percent match over the first two years and then match 100 percent of the grant in the final three years. ECDI’s two WBCs are the only two SBA-funded women’s business centers in the state.
 
The WBC is located one floor down from the ECDI offices at 2800 Euclid Ave. The 1,205 square-foot space may be small, Rosenfelt says, but it’s designed to be completely focused on women. “We wanted to have a space that is women-centric,” she says. “Something happens when you put a bunch of women business owners in a room together.”
 
Now more than 200 members have access to a resource library, computer lab and free wireless internet; copy, fax and notary services; business coaching/mentoring and one-on-one counseling; training and workshop programs; networking opportunities; and access to small business loans through ECDI.

“It’s been a very quick ramp up for us,” notes Rosenfelt. “We want to be accessible to all women. When you fuel women entrepreneurs, when you invest in family and community, you’re investing in small business and economic development.”

The center has five computer stations, a project or conference room, co-working space and a training center. One entire wall is a white board, while the opposite wall serves as a projection screen. “We designed it that way so women would be forced to work around the room.”

The WBC also received funding from the Business of Good Foundation, Citizens Bank, Fifth Third Bank, First Merit Bank, Huntington Bank, KeyBankU.S. Bank, and, notably, the Cleveland Foundation, which helped the center meet its matching requirements.
 
“We’ve had overwhelming support from our business partners,” says Rosenfelt. “Even women in the business community who are not necessarily entrepreneurs but want to support us.”
 
The WBC of Northern Ohio had an official launch party on April 19 at Ariel International Center attended nearly 200 people and county executive Armond Budish. On Monday, May 2 at 8:30 a.m. the center will have a ribbon cutting ceremony.
 
The free event will feature representatives from the national SBA, who will present the Woman Owned Small Business of the Year Award, as well as WBC of Northern Ohio advisory board, staff, members and funders. The SBC Volunteer of the Year awards will also be presented. Registration is required.
 
The ribbon cutting also kicks off National Small Business Week. Following the event, the WBC will host two free seminars presented by Fifth Third Bank. Banking Services and Credit Reporting for Small Business runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and includes lunch. Then on Wednesday, May 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the WBC will host two more free seminars presented by Huntington Bank, Financial Management for Small Business Owners and Planning for a Healthy Business.

SPACES to expand offerings in new Van Rooy space

After more than two years of searching, SPACES, the 38-year-old organization for new and experimental art, has found a new home home with enough room to offer community programming and studio space.

The 9,300-square-foot first floor of the Van Rooy Coffee building at 2900 Detroit Ave. in Hingetown offers everything the institution needs to continue its mission.

“It’s gorgeous,” says SPACES executive director Christina Vassallo, adding that they will also have rooftop access for programs. “This is really going to make SPACES a vital community resource.”
 
The opportunity came about when Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell approached SPACES staff after buying the building last year and asked them if they would be interested in the first floor of the three-story building. The Bidwells agreed to sell the space to the venerable gallery and are financing the mortgage at a below-market rate. They also made a $150,000 donation toward the cost.
 
“They don’t just support us, they support the entire art community,” says Vassallo of the Bidwells’ generosity.
 
Furthermore, SPACES received a $500,000 grant from the Gund Foundation toward its $3.5 million capital campaign, Project SPACElift, which includes  $2.475 million for real estate acquisition, renovation, and costs associated with the relocation and $1.25 million for the SPACES Future Fund for cash reserves and its first-ever endowment for long-term sustainability.
 
SPACES has already received $300,000 from the Gund Foundation, but the remaining $200,000 is in the form of a challenge grant, meaning SPACES will not receive the remainder until it raises $200,000 through its capital campaign. The organization has raised $72,980 toward that $200,000 goal in a little more than week.
 
SPACES sold its current space at 2220 Superior Viaduct in 2013 and must vacate by November. Vassallo says the old space never provided a conducive flow between galleries because of its shotgun-style layout. In the Van Rooy location, however, the layout will provide better spatiality between the two galleries, which total 3,800 square feet.
 
“With this space, it created a transition between the two galleries,” says Vassallo. “[The transition] is a palette cleanser.”
 
A third 800-square-foot, 40-seat gallery will serve as an educational room for discussion-based and hands-on programming. The organization has never before had a dedicated space for its community engagement initiatives.
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Another room will accommodate experimental audio and visual presentations.  Two work rooms totaling 1,300 square feet will serve as art production and studio areas, which is another new feature for the organization. There are 13-foot high ceilings throughout the building.
 
“This creates a work and learn about work [environment],” says Vassallo. “So basically, it’s a one-stop shop.”
 
John Williams, principal of Process Creative Studios in Ohio City designed SPACES new home. “He digested out many different needs,” says Vassallo. “He came up with a comprehensive plan.”
 
Work on the Van Rooy location is scheduled to begin in late May, with a planned January opening. While the gallery will close its current doors in November, Vassallo says they plan to continue programming in temporary locations around the city in the interim.

Gray-Kontar launches unique artistic center in Collinwood

Daniel Gray-Kontar has been performing poetry for 25 years, but it was only recently that it dawned on him that there are no area venues dedicated to his art. “Usually you have to go to a coffee house or a bar [to perform],” he says. “Because there’s nowhere designed for poets and playwrights to craft and perform their works in the early process.”

Gray-Kontar decided to do something about that and now there is exactly such a place. Last month he launched Twelve Literary and Performative Arts Incubator, 325 E. 156th St. in Collinwood. The incubator is an intergenerational teaching, learning and performance space for poets, playwrights and performing artists.
 
The incubator’s unusual name comes from meanings in numerology, says Gray-Kontar. “The number 12 symbolically represents the building of transformative institutions,” he explains. “Hence, our mission is to nurture youth and adults through the creation of literary works that inspire communities to dream and build a more just and equitable society."
 
Earlier this year Northeast Shores Development Corporation approached Gray-Kontar about the 750-square-foot space after he formally applied to take it over as some kind of performing arts center. Gray-Kontar tossed a few ideas around before he came up with the mission of Twelve.
 
He knew what he didn’t want. “What I’m not interested in is adults coming into the space and teaching about their own interests,” Gray-Kontar says. “I really had to take a deeper dive into who I am as a person, who I am as a public intellectual, artist, and artivist, and what the needs of the community of artists are. I do want lifelong learners, adults engaged in working together with youth. Let’s merge the two so everyone becomes experts.”
 
Northeast Shores renovated the space for a variety of uses and leased the building to Gray-Kontar at a discounted rate that made it “relatively easy for a working artist to afford it,” he says. “It could clearly be a space for workshops, for poetry readings, dance rehearsals. But it can just as easily be an art gallery.”
 
Gray-Kontar plans to add a 10- by four-foot stage, lighting, soundproofing and a video projector to the space, which accommodates 60 to 75 people.
 
“The space will always change,” he says. “For some events it will feel more like a comfortable living room space, geared more for very intimate events and workshops/discussions. But for other events it will feel more like a performance space with folding chairs around the stage. It all depends on the feel of the performance.”

Twelve officially opens on Friday, May 6 with a poetry reading featuring Terry Provost, Eris Eady and Alishia McCoy. On Thursday, May 12, The center will host its inaugural Merge at Twelve DJ-poet collaboration with Eva Barrett and DJ Red-I. A membership drive will help fund programming. Memberships are $10 a month or $60 a year.

Those using Twelve are asked to conform to a community agreement, which is posted on the wall and states that people of all races, genders, religious backgrounds and health backgrounds can feel safe in this space.
 
Gray-Kontar unofficially opened last Friday, April 15, with a building session to discuss possibilities for Twelve, which the community has already embraced. “We've found that youth, in particular, really enjoy being in this space because it provides them with a writing space that feels more like their home environment and much less like the sterility of school spaces,” he says.

Sabor Miami offers up authentic homestyle cuisine, warm atmosphere

When Mariela Paz opened the doors to Sabor Miami Cafe in Old Brooklyn on March 31, she knew she had found her calling. The restaurant, which features Latin inspired dishes amid the flair and décor of Miami, was a result of Paz’s desire to put her love of art and cooking into an entrepreneurial endeavor.

“I’m so happy because this is me,” she says of her new restaurant at 4848 Broadview Rd. “It has a full commercial kitchen, art and artwork and my paintings on the walls.”
 
Originally from Honduras, Paz came to Cleveland to be closer to family after working for 13 years as a graphic designer for a silkscreen company in Miami. She previously operated the former Café Miami just down the street while battling uterine cancer, undergoing surgery just four months before its opening.. Then she began thinking about running her own restaurant.
 
“I loved my job [in Miami] but I worked at a computer all day,” she recalls. “Everything happens for a reason. For me now, it’s just enjoying the little things. I want to help with art and I want to get involved in the Cleveland community through my art.”
 
The 35-seat café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast options include the bistec a caballo, a popular Miami dish of steak topped with sautéed onions alongside eggs, home fries and Cuban toast. Lunch and dinner items feature Paz’s signature Latin favorites such as vaca frita (fried cow), ropa vieja, (the translation for which is "old clothes," but fortunately, the dish itself is one of stewed beef and vegetables) and an assortments of empanadas.
 
Good coffee and coffee drinks are a must for Paz. The drinks menu includes Cuban coffee, Mayan mocho (a blend of espresso and milk) and Coco Beach latte (iced coconut coffee con leche and whipped cream).
 
“You have to have a good cup of coffee,” says Paz, “because sometimes you go to a place and the food is the best food, but the coffee is not good.”
 
Paz renovated and redecorated the café herself. “The kitchen is good and the place is nice and homey,” she says. It's also where she does all of the cooking herself while her mom, her niece and a friend help run the café. “I am so lucky because I get paid for what I love to do,” she says. “I put my heart into my cooking. It’s a lot of work for me, but I have no complaints.” She plans to hire staff as business grows.

Ahead of opening, Paz joined the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI), which helps small businesses such as hers succeed by providing tools, technical assistance and support, and took advantage of the organization's business training classes. ECDI also gave her a $750 loan to launch the venture and build her credit. Rumor has it ECDI staff will drop in for a plate of Paz's homemade eats on occasion.
 
Customer reviews of Sabor Miami so far have been few but stellar, Paz says, adding that she’d like to eventually offer some Honduran dishes. “I want people to come and feel like you’re a family or you have a friend here,” she says.
 
Or bring your family. To that end, Paz has already started hosting “Painting with Mom” coffee, tea and canvas parties. The first two events were so popular that she will hold another one on Sunday, April 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. The cost is $45 per mother and child pair and includes all painting materials, sandwiches, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, flavored lemonade and pastries. Call (440) 714-0202 for reservations.

Paz plans to host similar events in the future and add community outreach programs, like feeding the homeless, to her repertoire. “I have many ideas in my head,” she says. “Because that makes me feel good. I don’t want material things. I’m a good person. You have to keep going when people tell you, ‘you can’t do that.’”

Sabor Miami Café is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Talking Salt with chef Jill Vedaa and sommelier Jessica Parkinson

Salt, which is unearthed from mines and evaporated from mineral springs and the sea, takes time to form and doesn’t come easy. The same is true of the journey that led chef Jill Vedaa and sommelier Jessica Parkinson to become cofounders of Salt, which is slated to open in Lakewood at 17621 Detroit Ave. this June. The two met a few years ago when Jill Vedaa sauntered into Humble Wine Bar, where Parkinson was manager, and ordered a flute of rosé.
 
At the time, Vedaa was earning media praise as executive chef of Cleveland Heights’ Rockefeller's restaurant, which was shuttered last May, while Parkinson masterfully juggled her front-of-the-house career with the demands of her family with six kids.
 
“My dad was a chef, so if you wanted to spend time with him, you did it in his kitchen,” says Parkinson. She spent the latter half of high school in the West Shore Career-Technical District at Lakewood High School immersed in the culinary program. Upon graduation, she was poised to follow in her father’s footsteps with a scholarship to Johnson and Wales University when fate intervened. Parkinson shelved her college plans when she discovered she was expecting a child. Waiting tables led to more than a decade of management jobs before a trip to Napa ignited an interest in wine and inspired her to earn a level-one sommelier designation.
 
In the meantime, Vedaa was about to further develop her flair for painting and drawing at the Cleveland Institute of Art when she had a change of heart. Pint-size for the profession at 5’ 6” and 19 years old, she took a job as a bar back in Tremont in 1992, eons before it was solidified as a top dining destination. In three years’ time, she’d had three different jobs. Savoring Spanish food at KeKa on her day off, opportunity knocked when the owner Mark Shary approached her with a job proposition. He was short-staffed; she was an inexperienced, albeit eager, apprentice.
 
Under the tutelage of Shary, and then Michael Symon and Karen Small, Vedaa proved a natural in the profession but confesses opportunity preceded her passion.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” is her unpretentious explanation for what lured her into the business as a teen and the secret to maintaining her longevity over a 20-year span in the service industry.
 
As friends and colleagues, Vedaa and Parkinson shared a common yearning for autonomy. With Rockefeller’s closing and a vacancy in a prime spot near the popular Beck Center they began realizing their dream of owning a restaurant about a year ago. “Everything has just fallen into place perfectly,” says Parkinson
 
Work started on the 2,700-square-foot space in February, where Chris Pocus of McGrann Construction is the contractor. The space includes a 10-seat bar, 25-seat lounge and tables for 40. Kitchen hours are tentatively slated for 4 to 10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday, 5 to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Salt will employ 25.
 
A storefront grant from the City of Lakewood will help fund exterior signage for the restaurant, the balance of the project is privately funded by the co-owners and a throng of supportive colleagues and friends.
 
Every chef knows that a heavy hand with salt can ruin its magic. Nonetheless, when asked what the most under-appreciated ingredient in the kitchen is, the two reply in unison: “Salt!” but insist the name was chosen more for memorability than to foreshadow a sodium-laden menu. Expect an assortment of expertly-seasoned small plates and Spanish-style tapas crafted by Vedaa complemented by a seasonal craft cocktail menu developed by Parkinson and an international wine list with selections from Chile, Portugal and Spain.
 
The “magic” is as much about the ambiance as it is the appetizers and aperitifs. Rustic and romance are intertwined in Salt’s dining room and lounge against the backdrop of an exposed brick wall. Without the distraction of WiFi or TV, you’ll discover a respite that harkens back to an era before electronics that will foster connection and conversation sprinkled with Vedaa’s favorite ingredient: fun.
 
Ever out of the box, Vedaa is adamant she doesn’t want to “get painted into a culinary corner ... Salt is more about a way of eating and dining and less about a specific cuisine,” she says.
 
“I’m focused on creating amazing food inspired by dishes I love, with many different ethnic influences.”

Boutique Kimpton Schofield Hotel: historic on the outside, modern on the inside

The Kimpton Schofield Hotel opened its doors on March 8 with a host of signature features and perks including being pet friendly, offering free bicycle use, and hosting a nightly wine happy hour.
 
The renovated 14-story Schofield Building houses 122 hotel rooms and six suites on floors two through seven, with 52 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments on the upper floors.
 
Cleveland architect Levi Schofield constructed the building in 1901 just steps from his childhood home in the boarding house his father built. The $50 million project included six years of renovation to restore the building’s exterior to its original 1901 glory, for which developer CRM Companies secured $5 million in historic state tax credits.
 
“It was a very exciting project,” says Jeff Smith, principal director with StudioCRM, the architect firm charged with the restoration. “It’s great to finally see it come to fruition and people enjoying it.”
 
The process began in earnest in 2009 when crews removed a fiberglass curtain that shrouded the original brick and terra cotta façade and dated back to the 1960s. By the time that segment of the project was done in 2010, Smith was looking at a beautiful, albeit beaten up, Cleveland landmark.
 
“It was in pretty rough shape,” recalls Smith when the original exterior was revealed. “A lot of detail was broken off from the curtain wall.”
 
The team, which included StudioCRM, CRM Companies, Cleveland Construction, preservation consultant Sandvick Architects and New York-based brand design firm Warren Red, set about repairing and replicating the exterior details and creating an appropriate look for the interior.
 
Shields with letters that spell out “Schofield” and the date of the building’s construction were recreated. They line the building about two-thirds of the way up and are illuminated at night.
 
“Pieces that were no longer intact were replaced with terra cotta or RFP,” explains Smith. “It was a painstaking process to recreate.”
 
More than 1,000 windows that had been reduced in size with the curtain wall were returned to their original sizes and openings. The new windows, which actually open, offer spectacular views of Cleveland.

Shields with letters that spell out “Schofield” were recreated and line the side of the building
 
“There are awesome views out of the building in all directions,” says Smith. “You can see the lake, Playhouse Square, Public Square, East Ninth Street and you can see toward Gateway.”
 
Of course the most prominent view is that of the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Public Square, which Schofield also designed. “He was a bit of an egoist,” says Marcie Gilmore, a marketing consultant for the Kimpton who led a tour of the hotel and apartments for members for the Cleveland Restoration Society last Saturday. “He built this building with the purpose of seeing his work on Public Square.”
 
There was not much historical significance to the interior, Smith says, other than the center staircase that runs throughout the building and features Schofield’s signature “S” on each newell post. “Everything else is new,” he says. “There wasn’t much left.”

The view down Euclid Ave of the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Public Square

However, Smith did pay homage to Schofield and Cleveland’s history with the décor. Kimpton extensively researches their hotel's host cities, says Gilmore, and hotel planners incorporate each city’s personality into the motif.
 
In Cleveland that means guitars in the lobby that guests can borrow as a nod to the Rock Hall, a map of the world with push pins for them to mark their hometowns and a “good news board” by the elevator bank for broadcasting positive local news.
 
Since Levi Schofield was a founding member of a group that collected and discussed animal specimens called the Cleveland Ark Club, many of the Kimpton rooms feature prints of different insects and butterflies. Other artwork includes prints of historic matchbook covers from Cleveland businesses.
 
The lobby will will be flanked by retail space at the north end of the building and will also connect to the forthcoming Parker’s Downtown restaurant. The hotel also features a 3,800-square-foot ballroom.

One of the suites in the hotel
 
The apartments feature stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, slate back splashes and walnut trim. The floor plans range from about 700 to 3,000 square feet, with corresponding monthly rents of $1,495 to $7,200. Thus far, 13 of the apartments are occupied. When the historic state tax credits expire in five years, Kimpton may convert the apartments to condominiums.

Hotel rates are running at a discounted rate of about $130 to $160 a night this month as the hotel ramps up, but will increase next month. Gilmore says rooms at the Kimpton Schofield are going for a premium and outpacing other area hotels for the Republican National Convention in July.
 
About 100 people are employed by the hotel while approximately 150 worked on the renovation project. 

Cleveland Insider: the Palace of Fermentation

As Sam McNulty sat in Market Garden Brewery one afternoon last week, the craft brewery owner overheard a couple discussing their plans. As they were leaving one of them said, “Let’s go drop our suitcases at the hotel and then go back to Nano Brew.”

McNulty, who also owns Nano Brew, was tickled by the conversation. “Word is starting to get out how amazing our city is and the brewery scene,” he says. “We’re kind of a best-kept secret. The more I travel, the more I realize Cleveland, hands down, has one of the best food scenes and one of the best brewery scenes.”
 
In fact, McNulty claims Cleveland’s brewery district in Ohio City ranks among the top in the country with the highest density of craft breweries, second only to Portland’s Pearl District. The area is home to eight craft breweries, two of which, Forest City Brewery and Hansa Haus, are about to open. One more, Earlybird Brewing Company, will open later this year.
 
That growth of the craft brewing scene was one motivator for McNulty to build the recently-completed 43,000-square-foot Palace of Fermentation, the new production and distribution facility for Market Garden and Nano Brew. The facility will brew and distribute three of its flagship beers and one of 10 seasonal beers throughout the year.
 
The building at 1849 W. 24th St. dates back to the 1840s. The one-acre plot was once a collection of houses that transitioned into stores and eventually became a manufacturing and distribution warehouse. During the renovation, the construction crew peeled back five layers of wallpaper and discovered a fireplace and other artifacts from days gone by.
 
The Palace, which got its name after brewmaster Andy Tveekrem jokingly named it, has been two-and-a-half years in the making. The facility, which officially opened last week, initially was designed to brew 250,000 gallons of beer with seven 2,200-gallon fermentation tanks in its first year with distribution to select vendors in Cuyahoga County, such as Lizardville, Barrio and Progressive Field.  
 
“The reason we built the production facility is, from day one, we were seeing so much demand and we have to be ahead of the demand curve,” says McNulty.
 
But demand has already exceeded capabilities. So McNulty and co-founder Mike Foran ordered five additional 6,500-gallon fermentation tanks, which will be delivered in a few weeks.
 
“It’s a good problem to have,” quips Foran. “But at the end of the day, I hate not being able to get more people our beer. We want to get beer to anyone who wants to drink it.”

In addition to beer production, McNulty sees the Palace of Fermentation as a resource to promote the growing beer tourism industry in Cleveland. The facility has been offering tours since it opened and will open its tasting room and retail store, offering “Market Garden goodies” in mid-May, Foran says.
 
“We're the first brewery - production scale or brewpub - in the city that was built from day one with tours and retail in mind,” McNulty adds.

The tours are conducted on five-foot-wide catwalks that run 15 feet above the action on the floor. While the walks currently span about 400 feet, plans include doubling the length in future expansion. The tasting room features a mahogany bar that was salvaged from a Lorain Avenue building undergoing its own renovations.
 
“We're really creating a brewing campus where we brew at three different scales and teach, tour, taste and train in all things brewing and beer,” says McNulty.
 
While keg distribution is underway, the staff was filling bottles of Progress pilsner and Prosperity wheat, which were named after the motto on the Cleveland flag, at the Palace last week in anticipation of the bottled beer distribution in May. Market Garden and Nano Brew will also continue to brew at their respective pubs.

“We're super excited to be a part of the Cleveland craft brewery community," says McNulty. "We're seeing beer tourism grow in leaps and bounds in the city."
 

Cleveland Insider: the subtle link between CIA, the Browns and Michael Symon's new Mabel's BBQ

When Scott Richardson graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1991 with a degree in interior design, and again when he spent 15 years as an instructor at the school, he found that Cleveland design firms just didn’t offer the kind of conceptual design work he wanted to do.
 
I went to Columbus to work for Fitch,” he recalls of his time with the retail design firm. “I wanted to move back to Cleveland so I started freelancing and teaching at CIA. Then 12 years into teaching I saw all this talent leaving the town. [My students] were saying, ‘I’d love to stay but no one is doing what I want to do.”
 
So Richardson took matters into his own hands and started Richardson Design in January 1994. The conceptual design firm has thrived by providing interior design for consumer hospitality environments, primarily restaurants.
 
In its 22 years, Richardson Design has grown to 12 employees – many of them CIA graduates – and has created the look inside several of Cleveland’s popular dining destinations, from the red-hot Music Box Supper Club to the inventive concession area makeover last year at FirstEnergy Stadium. The company has built a name nationally and works on accounts across the country.
 
“We’re very different for Cleveland,” says Richardson. “We’re interior designers, but we approach projects very much from a brand consultation standpoint. We build brands people can scale.”
 
With FirstEnergy Stadium, Richardson brought in a local theme with Cleveland chefs and local elements. “In the old days you’d go into a stadium and all the food and concessions looked the same,” Richardson explains. “Now it’s all encompassing, it’s completely transformed. You go there and taste some of the best food in Cleveland.”
 
With the newly-opened Bomba Tacos and Rum in Rocky River, a sister restaurant to Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar, Richardson wanted to create an atmosphere similar to Paladar but with a lively rum bar atmosphere.
 
But the firm's most recent and highly anticipated project is that of Michael Symon’s 100-seat Mabel’s BBQ, which is scheduled to open on East 4th Street next week.

Richardson has designed many of Symon’s other restaurants, including 13 B Spot locations in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, and Bar Symon locations in Pittsburgh and Washington Dulles airports. “We’ve worked with Michael Symon for eight years,” Richardson says. “We did the original B Spot concept with Michael.”
 
But the Mabel’s concept is completely different. With Symon’s first foray into the barbecue restaurant world, Richardson says the venerable chef wanted to emphasize that this is about Cleveland barbecue.
 
“He wanted to put his own sticker on it with ‘this is Cleveland barbecue,’” explains Richardson, adding that the theme pays homage to the West Side Market, backyard and driveway barbecues and tailgating with exposed brick, picnic tables and folding chairs.
 
According to Symon, Richardson's firm made the mark.

"When I set out to create Mabel’s, I wanted to combine the feel of a rustic smokehouse with the relaxed, convivial vibe of a backyard cookout,” says Symon. “Richardson totally brought that vibe to life.”
 
It's simply about the concept and vision, Richardson says of his designs. “We’re just there to support the food,” he says. “The food and the feel support one another.”

The Milton to offer 16 upscale town homes on Superior Avenue

When Brent and Cary Zimmerman bought their townhome in what was then called the Avenue District in December 2007, they were expecting a huge influx of neighbors and additional residential construction projects. Unfortunately, the housing market crash stalled activity and the Zimmermans were left looking at an empty lot at 1533 Superior Ave. near East 15th Street.

Eight years later, the Zimmermans have a 14-month old son and love their neighborhood. “We were really the first people in and we love it,” says Brent. “It’s just a little community down here. We have lawyers and doctors, engineers and people who are retired.”
 
But that empty lot still was an eyesore for the community. So in June 2015 Brent Zimmerman bought the property out of receivership. Plans are now underway to build sixteen 1,200-square-foot, two-story market rate town homes on the land in a gated community.
 
Designed by RDL Architects, the Milton units will rent for about $2,200 a month, Zimmerman says, and will feature two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and two-car garages. The units will have hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a Sonos sound system and flat screen televisions. Many of the units will have balconies and city views.
 
Using energy-efficient appliances in all the units, Zimmerman estimates total utilities costs should be about $100 a month.
 
A private dog park will be accessible only to residents. “There are a lot of dogs living downtown,” Zimmerman says of the city’s residential rebirth. “I have one too.”
 
Perhaps the best amenity, says Zimmerman, is the Milton’s location. The development is a 10-minute walk to many attractions, and a short bike or car ride to the rest of the city’s charms. As a season ticket holder to the Cavs, the Browns and Playhouse Square, Zimmerman says he’s never experienced such convenience in any of the other metropolitan areas that he's lived in, including Boston and New York.
 
“There are no other cities on the planet where you can walk to three professional sports teams’ events and the theater in 10 minutes,” he says, adding that there’s a great selection of family-friendly restaurants nearby as well.

Zimmerman has all the permits in place and he says Geis Companies and Zimmerman Remodeling and Construction expects to break ground this month. The Milton should be complete by late summer or early fall this year. 
 
Zimmerman has a family history of residential development. To underscore his lineage, The Milton is named after his grandfather, who flew in World War II and was a developer in Zimmerman’s home town of Bellevue, Ohio. 

“This is a tribute to him,” he says. “He developed half the town I grew up in.”

Tremont General Store: fresh offerings, old-school style

With much anticipation, Tremont General Store opened its doors last Friday, Apr. 1 at 2418 Professor Ave. Owner Kevin Kubovcik’s believes it will fill a void in the quirky neighborhood.
 
“The area needs a store where people can get milk and bread and eggs,” explains Kubovcik. “A place for hanging baskets for their front porch or bloody Mary mix for Saturday afternoons.”
 
The 2,000 square-foot general store will stock all of these items – with a local spin. Kubovcik will carry everything from farm fresh eggs, milk from Hartzler Family Dairy in Wooster and cheese from Lake Erie Creamery in the nearby Clark-Fulton neighborhood, to bread from On the Rise in Cleveland Heights.
 
Even that bloody Mary and other cocktail mixes will be on hand from Pope’s Kitchen, run by Clark Pope out of the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK) as well as a variety of CCLK products like Randy’s Pickles, and Cleveland Kraut.
 
Area beverage brewers and roasters such as Inca Tea, Rising Star Coffee, Old City Soda and Six Shooter Coffee will fill also the shelves.
 
“Local foods are what I’m really going to concentrate on,” Kubovcik says. “I want to be a hub for local artisan foods.”
 
The store will also carry locally-sourced meats, plants and flowers. “I’m going to specialize in organic and heirloom,” says Kubovcik of the plants. “I’m trying to get back to quality heirloom.” He will also carry specialized, grain-free cat and dog food.
 
The plants will be in the site's 40- by 150-foot outdoor garden center, which will open when Kubovcik receives a fencing permit. It will stock hand tools, rakes, shovels and pruners.

“Everything you need so you don’t have to go to Home Depot,” Kubovcik says. “Even the tools are locally sourced.” He plans to educate his customers on why his products are better.
 
The store's interior is festooned with re-purposed vintage ceiling tins. Many of the goods will sit on shelving salvaged from the shuttered Ridge Road Elementary School in Parma.
 
The concept for Tremont General Store came after Kubovcik went through a career change in 2010 when he left his corporate job to first grow lavender on an urban farm in Old Brooklyn and then serve as manager of the Detroit Shoreway’s Grace Brothers Urban Farm in 2012 until earlier this year.  
 
Kubovcik says the departure from Grace Bothers was amicable. “They love capitalism,” he says. “We’re on good terms. There’s enough for everyone and people aren’t driving to Tremont from West 65th Street to buy [their groceries]. In Tremont, it’s even more so – it’s a walking community.”
 
He bought the Professor Avenue space with the help of investor Alan Glazen of Glazen Urban, LLC. “It’s making a dream come true for me,” he says, adding that Tremont West Development Corporation also helped the project come to fruition.
 
Tremont General Store is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Kubovcik has already hired one part-time employee and plans to hire a full-time employee to help in the garden center later this spring. He says he hopes the part-time employee will transition into a full time position as the store takes off.

Judging from last Friday's opening, which attracted 48 walk-in customers, 27 of whom purchased goods, the take off has already begun.

“It was awesome,” says Kubovcik. “Many people have no idea of the concept of a general store.”

Cleveland Bazaar coming to Legacy Village with new Retail Lab

The Cleveland Bazaar has steadily grown since Shannon Okey started holding the pop-up independent craft show events in 2004.  
 
Beginning as a single holiday show in 78th Street Studios, the Cleveland Bazaar today has expanded to host year-round events all over Cleveland and has formed partnerships with both community development corporations and venues around the city.
 
“We have worked with hundreds of small local businesses over the years, and many have graduated over time to their own full-time retail locations,” says Okey, citing Cleveland Clothing Co. and We Bleed Ohio as two examples.
 
This week, Okey announced Cleveland Bazaar’s latest partnership with Legacy Village in Lyndhurst. Beginning in May, Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab will operate as a business incubator out of two vacant 1,400 and 1,200 square-foot storefronts.
 
The Retail Lab will serve as a storefront for a revolving list of artists and craftspeople to sell their goods and experience life as small business owners.
 
“It’s space they could not necessarily afford, or get, on their own,” Okey explains, adding that Legacy Village approached her about doing some outdoor events this summer.
 
In addition to serving as a location for the vendors, Cleveland Bazaar will also host themed pop-up events around holidays such as Father’s Day or Legacy’s annual art festival.

The Retail Lab spaces are across from Restoration Hardware in the heart of Legacy Village. They provide the perfect temporary space for Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab vendors and events this summer.
 
The deal is a win-win for both Cleveland Bazaar and Legacy Village. Okey says she’ll be working closely with Legacy Village management and the public relations team to mutually boost awareness. “We're all incredibly excited about the project,” she says. 
 
Before potential vendors are admitted to the experimental shop, however, they will have to apply. “They will be required to submit working proposals that include everything from their marketing and social media plans for the time they occupy the space to an agreement to work through an educational program we're developing,” explains Okey, “everything you need to think about if you’d run your own business.”
 
She adds that many vendors are concerned about the cost of opening a brick-and-mortar business, but there are an array of issues associated with opening a store that go beyond dollars and cents. And, Okey says, “It’s definitely a lot more work than people think.”
 
With the number of experienced artists who have worked at Cleveland Bazaar events, Okey is sure the concepts will be well-received. “From the get go, we’ve been fortunate to have experienced vendors who have done shows in other cities before,” she says. “We’re going to bring our A game.”
 
Nearly 100 potential vendors have already expressed interest in private messages to Okey through Cleveland Bazaar’s closed Facebook page. “I’d say we got interest,” she says.
 
Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab is due to open in early May and will operate at least through August.

Ohio Theatre returns to its 1921 splendor with renovations nearly complete

The restoration of Playhouse Square’s Ohio Theatre lobby is almost complete, with the space returned to its original grandeur. The May completion will mark the final project on the Playhouse Square theater renovations list.
 
Last Saturday, Tom Einhouse, Playhouse Square’s vice president of facilities and capital, led members of the Cleveland Restoration Society on a tour of the lobby, which has been shielded from public view by drywall during the restorations. He detailed the painstaking research and physical work that went into re-creating the 1921 Thomas Lamb design. Restoration began in June 2015.
 
“This is the transformation of the Ohio Theatre,” Einhouse told the group. “We’re just putting the finishing touches on it.”
 
Einhouse explained that the theater lobbies were often updated every 10 years in the early days, sometimes covering the original design. Then the Ohio Theatre was damaged by a fire in 1964. A 1980s attempt at remodeling on a limited budget left the theater with painted drywall, dropped ceilings and linoleum floors.
 
“The happiest time of my life was getting rid of those,” Einhouse told the group. The $5.5 million project was funded with a $3 million grant from the George Gund Foundation and $2 million from Playhouse Square’s $100 million Advancing the Legacy campaign for capital improvements, endowment growth, neighborhood transformation, education programming and new productions.

Saturday’s tour began in the State Theatre lobby and auditorium, where Einhouse pointed out the restored ceiling – painted in 14 different colors and used 6,000 sheets of metal leaf – plastering and new chandeliers. Twenty-five painters, 20 of them locals from Dependable Painting, stood on $140,000 worth of scaffolding to get the job done.
 
Einhouse also talked about the conversion to LED lighting, which provides better illumination, requires less maintenance and costs less.
 
The tour then moved on to the Ohio Theatre lobby. Before entering the Ohio Theatre lobby space, which is still surrounded by drywall, Einhouse made the group raise their right hands and swear they would not look up until he gave the word.
 
When he did, the group collectively inhaled at the ornate 150-foot long, hand painted ceiling. Jeff Greene, owner of EverGreene Architectural Arts in New York, worked with Cleveland architect firm Westlake Reed Leskosky and Einhouse to painstakingly research and recreate the original paint colors, plaster ornamentals, columns and other décor to accurately replicate the original design. Turner Construction and the Coniglio Company were the contractors on the job. The project took six months to complete.

The acrylic paint and glazes were all hand applied and wiped. Two of the painters on the EverGreene team, Mike and Jaime Carpenter of Hudson, were particularly pleased to be involved. While they normally travel the country for restoration projects, Einhouse said they were pleased to be working closer to home.
 
Research included delving into the Thomas Lamb archives at Columbia University’s Avery Library. “We were able to find the original drawings,” boasted Einhouse. Other reference photos came from Architectural Digest. Elements of the original ornamental plaster were found in a cove of the theater lobby and photos helped them match the look. Nearly, 8,500 hours of plaster sculpting went into the project. The sprinklers and air returns are cleverly hidden in the plaster ornamental elements of the ceiling.
 
“We were able to recreate it pretty accurately,” says Einhouse. “Everything was created by hand. We used modern building techniques to recreate something very authentic.”
 
Walls will be adorned with three 30-foot by 10-foot murals, recreated from the originals that were inspired by 17th Century French painter Nicolas Poussin. Six EverGreene artists worked on the canvas murals, which will be shipped from New York and installed in April.
 
Two fireplaces, four-foot high marble and mahogany accents will adorn the walls, in addition to display cases and columns. Historic chandeliers, although not the originals, will be restored, cleaned and rewired. The original carpeting is being recreated by Brintons in England.
 
In addition to the lobby, a $900,000 restroom project included capping the sewage pipes and expanding the women’s restroom by 40 percent. The entire restoration will be completed by May 15, ahead of the Restoring the Legacy benefit gala.
 
There were no snags along the way, said Einhouse. “We were able to peel back everything and get back to the original room,” he says. “And we kept the theater open the whole time.” While at times parts of the project were exposed, theatergoers only got “sneak peaks now and then” of the work going on in the Ohio.

“This could last 50 years,” said Einhouse of the restoration.
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