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romanian-born brothers open organic frozen yogurt shop in coventry village

The journey that led Adrian and Cosmin Bota to open an organic, self-serve frozen yogurt shop on Coventry was a long, winding one that included illegally trekking across the Romanian border with their family to escape their tumultuous homeland.

The Bota brothers, who recall traveling miles at a time at night with their parents and three siblings, were just kids then. Eventually, the family made its way to the U.S. and was granted asylum. The family moved to Parma, where the boys grew up.

After stints living in New York and Florida, Adrian (who works for Cleveland Clinic Innovations) and Cosmin (a real estate entrepreneur) decided to pursue their dream of opening a small business. After studying the market, they landed on an organic, self-serve "fro-yo" concept and targeted the Coventry neighborhood. Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt, located at 1767 Coventry Road, is the result.

The shop, which sells yogurt and assorted toppings for $0.57 per ounce (yielding a healthy portion for a few bucks), is well-lit with big storefront windows, colorful tables, high ceilings and furniture built of reclaimed wood and other materials.

The fro-yo is touted as "full of healthy probiotics, vitamin D, calcium, protein and yummy goodness" while free of "high fructose corn syrup, hormones, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives." Toppings include fresh fruit sourced from the West Side Market. It's tasty stuff -- this writer can vouch for that.

"We wanted to couple health-conscious, quality-conscious food with a walkable, urban location," says Adrian Bota. "Places like Menchie's tend to go in malls. We went away from the franchise model from the beginning. We wanted it to be local."

Although the Botas have not yet been able to obtain local dairy, they're working on that. Meanwhile, many other products are sourced locally.

Coventry denizens will hardly recognize the former Grog Shop space, which has been vacant for 10 years. Landlord Michael Montlack apparently has been waiting for just the right tenant. He seems to have found it. The design-savvy duo transformed the club's front door into a table, keeping the sticker-laden graffiti on its underside.

The Botas are working with Cleveland Institute of Art students to program local artwork on the walls and hold regular openings. They envision the space as a community hub. Next up, they're dreaming of expanding to Ohio City.

Source: Adrian and Cosmin Bota
Writer: Lee Chilcote

crowdfunding campaign behind quest to open downtown coffee shop

Charles Eisenstat thought he wanted to be a lawyer, but after living in Chicago and D.C. and experiencing their "advanced coffee culture," he realized his true passion lies in brewing the perfect cup of java.

Now, after spending countless hours studying the finer points of law as well as watching baristas make coffee in some of the best coffee shops in the world, the would-be entrepreneur plans to open POUR Cleveland. This new coffee shop in the 5th Street Arcades will offer handcrafted beverages including pour-over-style coffee.

"We won't feature any batch coffee, it will be strictly handbrew or pour-over, individually by the cup," explains Eisenstat, who started his quest by creating a coffee bar at home several years ago. He'd craft the perfect cup before heading off to work at a bank. "We'll be the first shop downtown to feature coffee that way. This is taking a culinary approach to it -- the way people do wine and beer."

POUR was recently named a finalist in the 5th Street Arcades Retail Development Grant Competition, a collaboration between Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Charter One's Growing Communities Initiative and Cumberland Development, the lease-holder for the 5th Street Arcades. Eisenstat has launched a crowdfunding campaign; Charter One will match up to $1,000 of whatever he raises.

In addition to brewing single-origin and estate coffees that would be hard to find in other Cleveland coffee shops, Eisenstat wants POUR to become a center for coffee culture. "We want people to geek out with us and get excited about coffee," he says in his Indiegogo campaign message. He promises "passionate baristas" and low countertops so customers can see how their coffee is being made. He also aims to create a place for coffee education, so classes and workshops will be offered.

Unlike Rising Star in Ohio City, an artisan venue that has a devout following but remains largely a roaster with little seating space, POUR aims to be a comfortable space where office workers and residents can hang out.

If all goes as planned, Eisenstat hopes to open POUR in a retail space with street frontage in July. He plans to buy his coffee from Counterculture in Durham, North Carolina, and the average cup will cost range from $2 to $3. He will launch the operation with little help, but plans to eventually hire six to 10 people.

Source: Charles Eisenstat
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cle furniture designers collaborate on soulcraft gallery in 5th street arcade

A group of Cleveland furniture makers who have earned national attention for their work plan to open a gallery in the 5th Street Arcades in downtown Cleveland in order to showcase their work.

They believe a downtown gallery can be successful by co-locating with other like-minded retailers, serving the growing base of downtown residents and hosting shows to attract crowds. Thus far, 12 Cleveland furniture designers have signed up to take part.

Soulcraft Gallery was recently named a finalist in the 5th Street Arcades Retail Development Grant Competition, a program that will award grant funding, favorable lease terms and discounted space to five startup retailers.

The other finalists are Bliss Books (indie bookseller), Bright Green Gift Store (organic gifts and home wares), POUR (coffee shop) and Sushi 86 (restaurant). All of the finalists have launched crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo to leverage the funding they've been awarded by Charter One Growing Communities.

Downtown Cleveland Alliance and Cumberland Development, which is the master lease-holder for the 5th Street Arcades, are also partners in the unique effort.

"The furniture scene is really growing here," says Peter Debelack of Soulcraft Woodshop, a cooperative woodshop that is located in the Hildebrandt Building in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. "Cleveland is a good fit for this in part because of how decimated it's been. We have so much amazing industrial space that Joe Schmoe can get for a really low cost. Then there's the wealth of reclaimed materials like industrial salvage. For pure designers, we're also in close proximity to the Amish, who are some of the finest furniture makers in the world."

The 900-square-foot gallery will feature 40 feet of window space on the corridor. It will function as a gallery with regular hours, but will also host special events and openings. Debelack plans to run it along with designer Shelley Mendenhall. Other furniture makers include A Piece of Cleveland, 44 Steel and Rust Belt Welding.

Debelack says the store will contribute to the revitalization of Cleveland and downtown while growing the furniture making scene here. He also wants to nourish the burgeoning maker movement, calling Soulcraft an "open source gallery" where talented amateurs will also be able to proffer their work.

Although no date is set, Debelack expects Soulcraft Gallery to open this summer.

Source: Peter Debelack
Writer: Lee Chilcote

first-ever pay-as-you-go commercial kitchen set to open its doors on euclid avenue

The final inspections for Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen take place this week, and a customer is planning to come in the next day. The organizers behind Cleveland's first-ever shared commercial kitchen hope that's a sign of good things to come.

The kitchen's goal is to help local food entrepreneurs bring products to market. With so many food truck owners, caterers, urban gardeners and budding chefs making their products in cramped home quarters or church kitchens that aren't always available, the group behind the venture hopes to fill a growing need.

"We're a food launchhouse," says Carolyn Priemer, whose family-owned real estate company is a partner in the project, along with Tim Skaryd of Hospitality Marketing and Sales and the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI). "Ours is the only facility in Cleveland that you can pay as you use."

The facility allows entrepreneurs to lease time for $18-24 per hour. The kitchen, which was built by Cleveland State University before it moved to the new student center, has stations for baking, catering, canning, thermal processing and dry packing. The venue also has dry storage and walk-in coolers and freezers.

ECDI is available to offer loans to food entrepreneurs, and the partners plan to offer classes as well. Hospitality Sales and Marketing is a food brokerage, and Skaryd says he will help customers with small-scale canning and labeling.

So far, prospective customers that have expressed interest include food truck operators, an ice cream maker, tea maker and granola bar maker, among others. Priemer says that she's gotten inquiries with only word-of-mouth marketing.

The facility is available for use 24/7, and has its own security system and key card access. Users do not have to sign a lease, but must sign a basic user agreement.

Will it be profitable? Priemer says that will depend on the amount of usage, and right now it could go either way. However, she hopes entrepreneurs will see the value not only in the space, but in networking opportunities with other startups.

"There is no food hub for businesses," she says. "This seems to connect a lot of areas of the food industry here. We're planning to hold networking events to bolster the local food community, including bringing in some guest chefs."

Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen is located at 2800 Euclid Avenue.

Source: Carolyn Priemer
Writer: Lee Chilcote

gordon food service set to break ground on $4m store on w. 117th street

Gordon Food Service, a 115-year-old company that specializes in large package food items and kitchen supplies, is opening a new retail location on West 117th Street on a former J.D. Byrider car lot.

The new store, which has been fully approved by the City of Cleveland and is set to break ground this month, reinforces the strength of the west side Cleveland trade area, says Anita Brindza, Executive Director of Cudell Improvement.

"With the density of our population, we have a market here," she says. "They liked the proximity to downtown, the west side of Cleveland and Lakewood, and of course to I-90 for deliveries. It worked out that this would an ideal location."

GFS Marketplace Realty paid $1.25 million for the property last year. Plans have come together quickly, and company officials expect to invest approximately $4 million in the location, Brindza says. The store would employ about 20 people.

"We're always looking for additional locations that will serve our existing customer base as well as [new customers]," says Mark Dempsey with GFS. "We have locations in the suburbs of Cleveland, but we do not currently have a location that serves the city's near west side very well. This is really about convenience."

Dempsey touted the company's ability to deliver "restaurant-quality products in large packages" and items that consumers "can't get at a grocery store" in addition to its ability to help restaurants and institutions "keep their operations cooking."

Brindza says the family-owned company has accommodated local concerns. "They initially thought about a truck entrance off W. 116th, but both the Councilman and Cudell Improvement said that would be inappropriate. We said we'd like a pedestrian entrance off W. 116th to serve local residents, and they agreed."

GFS did not request any incentives from the City of Cleveland, says Brindza, whose organization helped shepherd the store through various city approvals.

Brindza believes GFS will happily coexist with local grocery stores as well as the planned grocery at the Shoppes on Clifton development. "You don't go in there to buy a single loaf of bread, but if you're looking for economy-size Betty Crocker cake mix. If you're having a party, family gathering, something with 50 people."

If development proceeds as planned, the store will be open before Thanksgiving.

Source: Anita Brindza, Mark Dempsey
Writer: Lee Chilcote

new korean-fusion eatery set to open in playhousesquare

PlayhouseSquare will soon add another delicious restaurant to the district, adding fuel to its quest to become a 24/7 neighborhood that encourages theater patrons to stick around long after the shows end. Entrepreneurs Jiyoung and John Sung will open Sung's House next month, adding a Korean and Japanese restaurant to the downtown scene.

"It's not traditional Korean food -- it's fusion style," says Jiyoung Sung, who moved from Michigan to be close to family. "We're also building a sushi bar."

John Sung worked as a sushi chef for 13 years before moving to Cleveland. The venue is a big leap for the couple. "We're happy and nervous at the same time. We're excited about having our own place, but it's kind of frightening, too."

The price range for lunch will be $8-10, while dinner items will be around $15, keeping the menu affordable for CSU students and downtown office workers.

"We think those who live, work and visit here will appreciate having yet another great choice of where to eat," says Cindi Szymanski of PlayhouseSquare, which owns the building. "The planned Korean and Japanese menu choices, including sushi, will bring a currently unrepresented style of cuisine to PlayhouseSquare."

Why did the couple choose PlayhouseSquare? "My uncle is a professor at CSU, and he knows the area very well," says Jiyoung Sung. "He recommended it to us."

The restaurant will be located at 1507 Euclid Avenue, in the former China Sea Express space. It is expected to open in May.

Source: Jiyoung Sung
Writer: Lee Chilcote

mcnulty divulges plans for market culinary building in ohio city

Sam McNulty has the best kind of problem an owner can have; he's selling so much beer at Market Garden Brewery and NanoBrew in Ohio City that he can hardly keep up with demand. Selling kegs to patrons or restaurants that want to carry popular varieties like Pearl Street Wheat or CitroMax IPA is out of the question.

McNulty and his partners expect to solve their space crunch by early next year with the redevelopment of the Market Culinary Building, a 43,000-square-foot warehouse at W. 24th Street and Bridge Avenue. McNulty has taken to calling the place the "palace of fermentation."

After purchasing the building last year for $800,000, McNulty, brewmaster Andy Tveekram and partners Mike Foran and Mark Priemer will spend an undisclosed sum rehabbing it into a hub for beermaking, cheesemaking, charcuterie, distilling, kombucha and other types of fermentation. They'll offer classes and tours from beermaking to sausage making to butchering whole, pasture-raised animals.

"Bar Cento was the first restaurant in the state to serve farm-raised venison," explains McNulty. "We had a big coming-out party for venison. We had a whole deer sitting on the bartop, and Chef Lambert did a demonstration of how to break down a whole animal. That event sold out within two hours of listing tickets for sale."

"People are very interested in artisanal food, who’s making it," he adds. "They want to know it’s local, fresh, and the animals are raised, harvested humanely."

The building, which sits on an acre of land, will solve the beermaking problem and then some -- the large space offers room to grow. McNulty says the foursome also plans to open a retail shop sometime next year to sell homemade products.

"We'll sell charcuterie, cheese, fresh eggs," he says. "Everything we put out will be on a very boutique level. We'll pick out four to six recipes we've perfected at Market Garden and then make them to distribute to restaurants in the area."

The point is to complement the West Side Market, which McNulty wholeheartedly supports but feels needs to boost local products and update its hours. "At one point we considered buying a stand, but we didn't want to limit ourselves to the impractical hours the market keeps. We'll be open on days the market isn't."

Source: Sam McNulty
Writer: Lee Chilcote

downtown jazz club debuts with unusual blessing from church pastor

"Jazz is like the kind of man you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with." That might sound like a curious quote for a pastor to use in blessing a jazz bar, yet these were Mark Giuliano's words at the opening of the new Take 5 Jazz Club in downtown Cleveland. The quote comes from jazz legend Duke Ellington.

"We know how important live music is for gathering people; we're for that kind of community building," explains Giuliano, Pastor of Old Stone Church on Public Square and President of the Downtown Residents Association. "We want a place where you can have great food and a couple drinks, listen to live music, be able to visit and have a sense of community. What [the owners] have done is take an old, divey bar and brought new life to it."

Giuliano believes Take 5 will fill a gap in the Warehouse District entertainment scene by offering music that's geared towards an older, multicultural crowd.

"There are an awful lot of empty-nesters like my wife and I [downtown]," he says. "We're not really going to be doing the club scene over on W. 6th at two in the morning. This is a place where everybody feels welcome and has a place."

Take 5, which opened on March 21, offers live jazz, R&B and blues from Thursday through Sunday nights. It is located at 740 Superior Avenue, in the former House of Cues and Prime Rib Steakhouse location in the Warehouse District. The venue also offers an extensive tapas menu prepared by executive chef Jeremy Rolen.

Owners Brian Gresham and Claude Carson have renovated the once-shabby House of Cues into an upscale jazz venue that caters to a professional crowd. Gresham says he saw an opening in the scene due to all the development taking place downtown.

"With the casino, med mart and Flats being revitalized, we wanted to fill a niche," he says. "We more or less took concepts from places that were once in the area that did very well -- The Bop Stop, Wilberts and Sixth Street Down Under."

The owners renovated the interior with new lighting and other improvements. A black ceiling makes it "feel like you're in a true musical venue," Gresham says.

Take 5 welcomed trumpet player and vocalist Skip Martin for its opening weekend, and Gresham is currently working to bring Sean Jones to town, as well. The venue's performers will include a mix of regional and national acts.

Source: Mark Giuliano, Brian Gresham
Writer: Lee Chilcote

more bike boxes are coming to a cleveland neighborhood near you

Some creative, outside-the-box thinking by the city's leading urban design and cycling advocates has led to the creation of four additional "bike boxes," which are to be installed this spring in various Cleveland neighborhoods.

The newest wave of bike boxes are modeled after a successful pilot project at Nano Brew in Ohio City. That installation transformed a steel shipping container into a colorful curbside bike garage for two-wheeled visitors.

By offering secure, covered parking in a bike corral that also functions as dynamic, placemaking public art, the Bridge Avenue bike box does more than simply provide practical parking: It brands the city as a place that prioritizes cycling.

"It's really a center of gravity," says Greg Peckham, Managing Director of LAND Studio, the nonprofit that spearheaded the project with Bike Cleveland. "It's as much about a safe, convenient, protected place to park your bike as it is about making a statement that cycling is an important mode of transportation in the city."

Peckham says that Ohio City's bike box is very well used on days when the West Side Market is open and in the evening when riders coast in for dinner or a drink. With the street's bike racks often at capacity, the bike box was critical, he says.

The new bike boxes will be installed in time for Bike Month in May. The locations are Gordon Square (a barn-red beauty outside Happy Dog), Tremont (two "half loaves," as Peckham calls them, outside South Side and Tremont Tap House), St. Clair Superior (location TBD) and a final, undetermined community.

The bike boxes are being custom-fabricated by Rust Belt Welding, which is an entrepreneurial duo that has made creative bike parking a calling card for their work. Each of the boxes is being designed with neighborhood input -- hence Tremont's half-boxes, which amount to a shipping container split in two.

The project is being supported by Charter One Growing Communities, which has also funded retail attraction efforts in Ohio City, downtown and St. Clair Superior.

Peckham says the new designs accommodate more bikes and use lighter colors. Users can expect more innovations in the future -- LAND Studio is working to secure funding so that green roofs and solar panels can be added to the boxes.

The bike boxes are being maintained through partnerships with neighboring businesses, which agree to maintain, clean and keep secure the facilities.

Source: Greg Peckham
Writer: Lee Chilcote

shoppes on clifton project inching forward in spite of opposition, says developer

The Carnegie Companies, a Cleveland developer, has been around since the 1930s. The firm takes a long-term view on its properties -- very long-term. That may help to explain why, after more than a decade of planning and two co-developers that left them standing at the altar, the property at W. 117th and Clifton Boulevard still is undeveloped.

Nonetheless, the firm finally is preparing to move forward with the Shoppes on Clifton project, according to a representative who spoke on condition of anonymity. Carnegie Companies is aggressively courting a lead anchor tenant -- a small grocer store or market -- as well as other food or restaurant tenants.

"Our timeline is as soon as we can get something done," says the representative, citing the need to secure an anchor tenant to seek approvals and break ground. "We're pursuing a grocery or market very actively. I can tell you if we can put together the anchors we're talking to, we have oversubscribed interest for the smaller spaces up front. We're looking at restaurants, specialty food retailers."

The developer would not comment on a site plan that was leaked to the media by Neighbors in Action, a group of residents opposed to the demolition of the historic Fifth Church on the site. Neighbors in Action wants the developer to reuse the church and develop buildings close to the street with the parking in back.

The developer did confirm that the site plan was being actively considered, though he stated it is not necessarily the final plan. Developed by architect Brian Fabo, the plan shows three structures of 16,000, 10,500 and 6,000 square feet plus a parking lot at the corner of W. 117th and Clifton. One building would be close to the street on Clifton; the other two would be set back to maximize visibility.

The developer says that the City of Cleveland, which owns Fifth Church, asked the Carnegie Companies several years ago to consider incorporating the church site into their project. Councilman Jay Westbrook has previously stated that the city will pursue demolition of the church, which many consider structurally unsound and beyond saving. Neighbors in Action believes the church should be rehabilitated.

"It would be an incredible undertaking to try to reuse the church," the developer says. "It looks like it's been bombed out because of water infiltration and other issues."

The developer adds the unfortunate reality is that the church site is useless unless parking is placed in front. No major retailer would consider leasing a space in the development without maximum visibility. If buildings were constructed along Clifton to the corner, it would obscure the church site in the northwest corner.

"In today’s world, they prefer, if at all possible, to have parking in front," he says. "It maximizes visibility and reduces liability for the retailers. If parking is hidden from traffic sources... Things happen in hidden parking lots. It's been an issue in the past."

Neighbors in Action commented in a press release: "The Shoppes on Clifton plan, being developed by Carnegie Companies, is nothing more than a suburban style retail strip center ill placed in a historic district deserving of quality, character and good urban design, and is a far cry from actual shops on Clifton Boulevard."

Prior to groundbreaking, the Carnegie Companies must seek approval from the city's Design Review and Planning Commissions, which may push for a project that retains the traditional urban character of buildings that are close to the street. Developers in Cleveland and other cities have built new retail or mixed-use projects with little setback (Uptown in University Circle is one example).

The developer says they will pursue the project with or without the church property, but the new proposal involves salvaging and incorporating major elements of the church. Specifically, the main entrance along Lake Avenue could be incorporated into pedestrian-friendly entrance to the new development.

Neighbors in Action stated in a press release that a "source" had informed the group that Giant Eagle Express, Chipotle and a dollar store were being considered as lead tenants in the project. The Carnegie Companies would not discuss tenant negotiations, saying that it was premature since leases have not been secured.

There is no specific timeline for the project, but the developer stresses that Carnegie Companies is ready to pull the trigger as soon as it lands an anchor.

"We think that it is a very positive project for all stakeholders."

Source: The Carnegie Companies
Writer: Lee Chilcote

deagan's owner to open humble wine bar in downtown lakewood

The once-dumpy strip mall in downtown Lakewood known as "Drug Mart Plaza" will no longer be boring. Dan Deagan, owner of the popular Deagan's Kitchen and Bar, plans to open a wine bar in the renovated plaza sometime this summer.

"Lakewood doesn't have any wine bars, and we sell a lot of wine here," says Deagan. "Lakewood has been good to us; I wanted to do something close."

Since Deagan named his first venue after himself, he said that he decided to go with a more modest name this time around. Thus, the new place will be called Humble Wine Bar.

The name also is a nod to the kind of venue he wants to create -- one in which wine snobbery is left at the door and anyone can learn about and enjoy good wine.

"A lot of people are intimidated by wine bars, and honestly, I'm one of them," he says. "I walk in and they hand me a War and Peace-size wine list, and it's overwhelming. We want it to be approachable and affordable."

Creating the right atmosphere is less about the size of the wine list than having a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and a knowledgeable staff that can educate customers about wine and make suggestions. "It won't be cold and stuffy," promises Deagan.

The 60- to 70-seat venue, which will employ 15 to 20 people, will have a full liquor license and also sell craft beers. A "simple but very good" cocktail list will also be available.

Humble Wine Bar's roll-up glass garage doors and new patio on Detroit will help transform the long-dumpy plaza into yet another pleasant outdoor venue in Lakewood.

Deagan says the open kitchen will offer thin, Neapolitan-style pizzas, antipasti, cheeses, cured meats and other small plates. He's shooting for a June opening.

Deagan is opening Humble Wine Bar with his wife Erika, business partner and soon-to-be sommelier Amanda Bernot, and business partner Dan Stroup.

Humble Wine Bar will be located at 15412 Detroit Avenue.

Source: Dan Deagan
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cleveland brew shop owner to convert vacant tremont lot into hop farm

This summer, the Tremont neighborhood will have a new gateway welcoming people to the neighborhood: Cleveland's first dedicated hop farm. Boasting 16-foot tall posts laden with vines, the parcel on W. 14th Street, just south of the I-490 bridge, will not only create a dramatic entranceway into the area, it will also be used to grow three to four different varieties of fresh hops.

"Shortly after opening, Cory Riordan [Director of Tremont West Development Corporation], came into the shop. He actually signed up for a beer-making class," says Paul Benner, owner of the Cleveland Brew Shop in Tremont and creator of the hop farm. "He mentioned they had a piece of land controlled by ODOT down the street. He asked, 'Is there anything you can do to help make it productive?'"

"It actually makes sense to grow hops there," says Benner, who got excited and soon struck a partnership with Tremont West. He will share the unused parcel of land with a group of Tremont gardeners who have raised crops there for years.

Benner's purpose is twofold: to sell wet fresh hops to homebrewers at harvest time, and to partner with local breweries to create a new, locally-sourced beer.

Fresh hops are not often available to homebrewers, who typically rely on dried hops that can be used year-round. Benner believes there is unmet demand. "If you can get hops immediately off the vine and use them in your beer, the flavor and aroma will be so much higher than if you buy something dried online," he says." A lot of times you can’t purchase fresh wet hops, or you can get them, but not to brew the same day. This is like picking a strawberry and eating it right off the vine."

Benner estimates that the plot will yield 20 to 25 pounds of hops, enough for about 50 five-gallon batches of beer (or 2,500 12-ounce beers). He has already gotten a strong response from the homebrewing community and volunteers. Because he is planting mature, three-year-old vines, he's anticipating a harvest this August.

The locally-sourced beer will come later. Benner will employ volunteers to help cultivate the site and will offer workshops on growing hops. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Market Garden Brewery and Nano Brew already use fresh hops from Ohio City Farm, but his plot will be the only farm dedicated to growing hops.

"This will be another great thing to see when you're coming into Tremont," he says.

Source: Paul Benner
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bad racket continues to expand homegrown recording studio in ohio city warehouse

Although it wasn't obvious to Thomas Fox at the time, losing his job at Go Media several years ago may have been the best thing that ever happened to him. It led him to create Bad Racket Recording Studio with partners James Kananen and Adam Wagner.

Since launching the studio in 2010, the group has expanded its presence in the music scene. Last year, they took on additional space, bolstered sound panels to create a better recording experience, and began hosting additional live concerts.

"January was our busiest month ever -- we were booked almost every day," says Fox, who handles marketing and operations for Bad Racket. "We're building a community of people that we're working with. Our customers have come from as far away as Philly and West Virginia, but right now it's mostly Cleveland bands."

What's different about Bad Racket, which occupies a warehouse space at W. 45th and Lorain (below Go Media's offices), is that it has created a recording space that feels like a cross between a living room and a comfortable stage.

"We're not a clean, polished space, but our emphasis is on creating a space for performance," says Fox. "All you do is show up, play your songs at your best and the rest is taken care of. People prefer live recordings -- although we do both."

Bad Racket, which charges $45 per hour for studio time, also handles video production. The recording space doubles as a stage used for live concerts.

Fox and his cohorts self-financed the studio and have reinvested profits back into the space. They've built walls from rockwall insulation and acoustic panels from "rolls of bike helmet padding from Zero Waste Landfill and whatever is cheapest at JoAnn Fabric." The result? A 1,200-square-foot space with great acoustics.

It's a labor of love that's paying off. "When there's a project we really, really want to do, budget is not an issue. Everyone here just wants to make great music. Most of us have separate jobs, but if anyone asks us what we do, we'd say Bad Racket."

Fox is also a leading force behind Brite Winter Fest (he books the music), which recently attracted 20,000 people to Ohio City on a cold, snowy February evening.

Source: Thomas Fox
Writer: Lee Chilcote

thanks to more downtown visitors, rta extends trolley service

With over 11 million visitors expected in downtown Cleveland this year (up from nine million last year), RTA officials sought last year to better connect the city's neighborhoods via public transportation. Their goal was to ensure that RTA is the transportation mode of choice for visitors to downtown. 

Six months ago, RTA was able to launch expanded, free shuttle service downtown on weeknights and weekends, thanks to $2.88 million in federal transit money and $720,000 in donations. The program is funded for the next three years.

Speaking at a downtown tour last week, RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese touted the trolley service as a huge success for downtown Cleveland that will enhance the visitor experience as the Global Health Innovation Center opens.

"RTA experienced five percent growth last year," he said. "We think downtown growth will help us. We want to make public transit a viable option for tourists."

As downtown experiences a so-called "parking crunch," Calabrese said that RTA is increasingly becoming the transportation mode of choice. Trolleys run until 11 p.m.

There are five lines: The C-line, which links the casino with the convention center; the L-line, which focuses on lakefront destinations; the NineTwelve line, which helps shuttle office workers from large garages to offices on E. 9th; the E-line on Euclid Avenue; and the B-line on Superior and Lakeside Avenues. Trolleys start at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends, and they arrive every 10 minutes.

The trolleys also serve downtown's growing residential population, expected to swell from 11,000 to 14,000 as new apartment projects open in the next two years. Another benefit? Helping office workers get around downtown easily.

Source: Joe Calabrese
Writer: Lee Chilcote

tenant buildout weeks away, global health innovation center gets ready for closeup

On March 31st, Cuyahoga County will turn over the Global Health Innovation Center -- formerly known as the Medical Mart -- to its individual tenants so they can begin to build out each of their spaces. 

It will be a landmark moment for the project, says Dave Johnson, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the GHIC. He expects the project to be majority leased when the ribbon is cut in June.

"The project will open ahead of schedule and under budget," says Johnson, who also cites the building's LEED Silver (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) status, a sought-after sustainable building rating.

GHIC tenants include a partnership between the Cleveland Clinic and GE Healthcare, a partnership between University Hospitals and Phillips Healthcare, Johnson Controls, and the Health Information Management Society.

The GHIC will include a display of the "home of the future," which will be built out by vendors and will feature medical devices that allow people to stay in their homes. UH and Phillips will showcase scanning equipment, while Johnson Controls will display the latest in hospital operating systems. Visitors will be able to view the behind-the-wall systems that would otherwise be invisible.

The Health Information Management Society will rotate exhibits based on what's hot in healthcare management. "It will be like a pretend hospital," says Johnson. "This is the organization around healthcare IT. The display will show equipment and how it interfaces. This is an entity bumped from the cancelled Nashville Med Mart project. It will become a magnet for companies to test IT equipment."

Officials are planning a public grand opening in June with a weekend of festivities.

Source: Dave Johnson
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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