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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.

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.

The ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support community.

Talking Salt with chef Jill Vedaa and sommelier Jessica Parkison

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 Parkison 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 Parkison 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 Parkison 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 Parkison. 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. Parkison 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 Parkison 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 Parkison
 
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 Parkison 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.


 
“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.”



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.


 
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.

John Marshall students set to launch Lawyer's Cafe

Jessica Whitmer isn’t a big coffee fan. “I love caramel,” she declares. But as a barista manager and team leader at the Lawyer’s Café, the new student-run coffee shop housed in John Marshall School, 3952 West 140th St., the 15-year-old 10th grader knows how to make a perfect cup of joe, not to mention a selection of other drinks.

The café, which will be operated by 40 John Marshall School of Civic and Business Leadership students, is scheduled to officially open in April in a space formerly used as a concession stand area. The idea behind the project is to teach business and entrepreneurship skills.
 
“It’s really cool to see them be able to start a company,” says principal Sara Kidner, noting that the students worked on customer service, research and development and finance teams to get the café started.
 
The café also offers a sense of community around John Marshall, which was converted from a traditional high school to three separate, smaller specialty high schools in business, information technology and engineering last August.
 
After mulling over different business ideas, the students decided on a coffee shop. “One of the reasons they chose a coffee shop was they wanted it to be a community,” says Kidner. A student vote decided on the name. “They wanted to have the historic aspect of John Marshall stay alive.” Eventually, they plan to open the café on Saturday afternoons. “We definitely want to eventually have it open to the public,” says Kidner. “But we’re concentrating on phase one this year.”
 
The George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation awarded $100,000 to help launch the venture, $50,000 of which will go toward a planned credit union for students and staff.
 
Students underwent interviews to work in the Lawyer’s Café, and while they will not get paid, they will earn community service hours required for graduation. Profits will go to the school’s activities fund.
 
Whitmer, whose only other job has been babysitting, is looking forward to the work. “I thought it would be a good thing because it looks really good on a college application,” says Whitmer, who wants to be a math teacher. “It’s an opportunity to do something good for the school. You learn leadership skills, what to do in certain situations, and what to do when a machine breaks.”
 
The students trained on all aspects of running the business, with the help from the owners of Rising Star Coffee. “I think it’s an opportunity to work, an opportunity to apply life skills to running a small business, says Rising Star partner John Johnson. “It’s a learning experience.”
 
An espresso machine, grinder, coffee machine and a brewer were purchased through Rising Star as well.
 
Johnson taught the students skills in menu planning, finance, inventory control, equipment and other details. Pete Mitchell, co-owner of Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, gave instruction on great customer service.
 
The menu includes regular coffee, Frappuccino-like frozen coffee drinks, smoothies in a variety of flavors and two signature drinks: the Hot Drizzle features vanilla coffee with a chocolate drizzle and whipped cream, while the Creamy Dream is a similar drink but with caramel instead of chocolate. Whitmer personally likes a caramel Frappuccino.
 
The official launch date for Lawyer’s Café will be on Wednesday, April 13th. Hours will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. through the last day of school.

Johnson is as excited about the imminent opening as the students. “Like any small business opening," he says, "you just get to a point where you say ‘oh, this is really happening.'"

Handcrafted sour beer, mead, eats and board games coming to Lakewood

When the BottleHouse Brewing Company opened on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights in 2012, owner Brian Benchek brought a slightly different approach to the craft brewery – no mainstream beers or televisions, but plenty of picnic tables and board games to create an atmosphere the whole family could enjoy.

The idea was a success and Benchek is on the verge of opening a second location. The BottleHouse Brewery and Mead Hall will occupy the space that formerly housed Old Sullivan’s Irish Pub at 13368 Madison Ave. in Lakewood.
 
Everything is complete and management is ready to open the doors pending approval of their federally issued brewing license. Jared Plotts, general manager of the Lakewood location and trivia host on Monday nights at the Cleveland Heights location, says the license should come through any day.  
 
“We’re well past the 120 days, which is the normal time it takes,” he says. “We’re at 150 days. Once that email comes, we’re open. It just gives us an opportunity to tweak things.”
 
While the team had been floating the idea of a second location, it was fate that brought it to life.
 
“Brian had been toying with the idea of how we could get more people interested in our beer,” says Plotts. “We were discussing a second location, but we planned on opening in a year or two and we thought we’d build it out ourselves.”
 
Then, Plotts says Benchek was tooling around town in November and happened to see the former Sullivan’s location was up for rent and in a blink, the second BottleHouse location was determined.
 
“Every day since the end of November we’ve been working hard to get everything up to code,” says Plotts of the 5,000-square-foot space. The team ripped out the saloon-themed décor from the last tenant only to reveal an Irish cherry wood bar and other imported Irish wood. New embellishments include rustic chandeliers, barrels lining the room and highlights on the stone work arches.
 
“The majority of the work was cosmetic,” says Plotts. “It’s more like a 17th century castle.”
 
Picnic tables will encourage a community feel, and the customary board games will be available.

"Valhalla," a private party room, features a 22-foot-long table. Plotts says he plans to host monthly craft brewing workshops here, including one specifically targeting women. He also plans to host monthly fundraising events for local charities.

A game room in front has reclaimed wood floors salvaged from a vintage Irish barn, glass sculptures made by Benchek and old school arcade games.
 
While the Lee Road BottleHouse will continue to be the brewing headquarters for the operation, the Lakewood location will focus on sour beers, which rely on wild yeast for fermentation, and barrel aging. The two locations employ about 10 people.

Twenty-four taps will offer a rotating selection of BottleHouse-brewed clean beers, sour beers and meads. The sour beers take between six months and three years of barrel aging, so that selection won’t be available until late this year. There will also be a variety of cocktails made with the beers and meads.
 
Menu items include crackers made with the spent grains from making the beer and BBQ sauce and beer cheese made from BottleHouse brews, as well as soups and salads. Offerings will change seasonally, Plotts says. And as always, patrons are welcome to bring their own food into the bar.
 
Plotts says the overall atmosphere and attitude in Lakewood will be similar to the Cleveland Heights location. “Lakewood has such a rich history,” he says. “We wanted to give the community someplace they could be proud of and a place they can go with a lot of energy and the idea of community.”

Bloom Bakery opens on Public Square

Sour dough bread, sticky buns and English sausage rolls are just a sampling of the items available at the highly anticipated Bloom Artisan Bakery and Café, which opened earlier this week at 200 Public Square. In addition to the bakery items, Bloom also offers a selection of sandwiches, soups and salads. Try homemade hummus with red capsicum peppers, house-roasted garlic and olive oil on your choice of bread alongside a cup of French onion soup and a beet salad. Top it off with a chocolate pecan brownie, spice cookie or slice of Madeira pound cake.
 
There is, however, much more to this story than just a mouth-watering menu.
 
Made possible by a collaboration between local organizations including the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), the Business of Good Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation and Towards Employment, Bloom Bakery is dedicated to employing low-income and disadvantaged adults from the Greater Cleveland area.
 
"Bloom Bakery's partnership with ECDI is bound by a shared passion for benefiting local Cleveland communities," said Logan Fahey, general manager of Bloom Bakery in a statement. "Their support for our social enterprise has been instrumental in our efforts to give those with barriers to employment a second chance.”
 
Before being hired by Bloom, potential employees go through a Towards Employment’s career readiness course. They also learn baking skills from the best. Internationally-renowned artisan baking specialist Maurice Chaplais, who is based in the United Kingdom, is here training the first group of bakers and the head baker. After he returns to England in April, Saidah Farrell, head baker, will be in charge of training. The aim is to give employees access to meaningful work, achievement, and self-sufficiency through the art of exceptional handcrafted baking.
 
“We wanted to create a business that is scalable,” Fahey told Fresh Water last year. “The hope is that once they graduate from the bakery they will move on to jobs with higher wages and use the skills they’ve learned.”
 
The second Bloom location at 1938 Euclid Ave. in the Campus District is the operation's production kitchen. Bloom previously used the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen, an incubation kitchen and accelerator, also funded through ECDI.

The Economic and Community Development Institute is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.
 

Local chocolatier rebuilds facility destroyed by fire

Debbie Stagan will never forget Thanksgiving 2014. It was the day that fire destroyed the 342,000-square-foot Fannie May/Harry London warehouse in Maple Heights. “I was in shock,” the wholesale supervisor recalls, “left wondering if you had a job.”

Last Wednesday, March 9, Stagan and the other 45 permanent warehouse employees returned to the rebuilt warehouse for the grand opening after spending nearly 16 months working out of a temporary warehouse in Twinsburg and the chocolate manufacturer’s North Canton headquarters.
 
It was an emotional day for Kevin Coen last week as he welcomed the employees back. All of the permanent employees were able to keep their jobs throughout the rebuilding process. “I see the spirit of the team here,” says Coen, president of Fannie May/Harold London. “They’re coming back home.”
 
Ten million pounds of chocolate is made in North Canton each year and the Maple Heights warehouse ships it all in four million packages to the company’s 85 retail locations in six states and Canada as well as to online customers.
 
When Coen got news of the fire, he was first relieved that no one was there at the time and no one was hurt. He then went into "team mode,” following the long-standing Fannie May motto of "Fannie May Strong," and ensured operations could continue. ”It’s about spirit and how we go about doing things,” he says of the motto. “When you’re faced with that, you deal with that.”
 
By Monday morning, the employees were being bussed to the North Canton facility. “We didn’t miss a day of work,” Coen boasts. “The [Canton employees] applauded as they walked in. There was such a sense of comaraderie.”
 
Two weeks later, the temporary Twinsburg warehouse was found, to which any of the employees were shuttled each day from Maple Heights until last week. After the fire, Coen made sure all existing orders were fulfilled and the 75 seasonal employees were paid through December.
 
“Everyone knew what to do and they just did it,” Coen recalls. “Everyone stayed, anything we had to do as a company we did it. [Warehouse manager] Brandon Baas was literally sleeping in his office. He and [director of warehousing and distribution] Ron Orcutt took charge.”
 
The rebuilt 276,000 square foot Maple Heights facility has better LED lighting and a new, relocated 32,000 square foot freezer. “It’s much brighter,” Coen says of the lighting system. “It feels much more open. As you go through the facility, everything has been redone.” The only evidence of the fire is a pile of dirt, marking the location of the old freezer.
 
Coen says there was no question the company would rebuild in Maple Heights. “For the employees, this is where they’re from,” he explains. “This is what makes it so special. This is a homecoming. They give 100 percent every day. And the city’s been great.”
 
Mayor Annette M. Blackwell, fire chief Vito Kayaliunas, fire captain Dan Sypen, police chief John Popielarczyk, police captain Todd Hansen and members of city council welcomed the company and the employees back at the grand opening celebration.
 
After a tour, guests were treated to a lunch. The employees were also given lunch and goodie bags full of treats from parent company 1800Flowers.com.

Even though Stagan lives in Canton, she is says she is happy to be back in Maple Heights. “It’s great to be back,” she says. “Everybody is under one roof.”
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