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PizzaFire spreads across Ohio and beyond

In August 2015, Fresh Water reported on the opening of PizzaFire on Public Square in downtown Cleveland. It was the second such location for the fledgling company. The first was established in Akron the previous October.

Since then, the fast-casual pizza franchise has spread like wildfire.

There are no less than 10 PizzaFires in Northeast Ohio, including eateries in Parma, Woodmere, Rocky River, Strongsville, Fairlawn and Kent. Columbus is home to two PizzaFires, with another in Toledo and one in Kettering, Ohio. There's even a Texas location, which brings the total to 15.

Back in 2015, Ryan Rao, the company's franchise development executive, told Fresh Water that the company had seven more locations in the works with its sights set far beyond that.

"We want to build out the Midwest with 100 units in six years," said Rao in 2015.

Considering they've realized 13 in just 17 months and have 23 new sites in the works listed on their Coming Soon page, with locations slated to bloom from Los Angeles to Long Island and Tampa — the company is well on track to meet that goal.

Fans of Romeo's Pizza won't be surprised to learn that the man behind that long-standing area favorite, Sean Brauser, is also PizzaFire's CEO.

"He really is a pizza genius," said Rao of Brauser. "He's very well recognized for his pizza creativity," he added, citing a host of awards and accolades that Brauser has garnered for his pies and a 2005 appearance on the Food Network's $10,000 Pizza Challenge.

PizzaFire credits its success to its build-your-own pizza model, with six sauce options, including the "Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Sauce," which is concocted from hand-crushed tomatoes, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and Italian herbs and spices. Five different cheeses and 40 fresh toppings round out the selection. Dough is made fresh daily and then let to rest for  24 to 48 hours to allow the flavor to mature.

After customers watch their pizza get built, the pies are baked in a domed brick oven that reaches 800 degrees and can turn out a pizza in less than three minutes.

"You throw that pizza in there," says Brauser of his ovens in a company video, "that dough immediately starts to cook."

He continues, "I really want [our customers] to get an authentic Italian pizza experience and then be able to customize it exactly the way they want it."

Hungry? Of course the Public Square location is open for business at 236 Euclid Ave., and PizzaFire also has deals in the works for University Circle, Mayfield and Broadview Heights.

High-end tea, local nibbles coming to vintage Slavic Village building

There’s something about that purple corn that Ryan Florio uses in his Inca Tea blends. After being inspired by a tea brewed by his Sherpa while hiking in Peru with college buddies, he started the company out of his parents’ North Royalton home in February 2014.
 
Today, Inca Tea can be found on store shelves in Cleveland and across the country, and in a small café at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. He announced his latest expansions last month: a second café in the airport and his first free-standing site at 6513 Union Ave. in Slavic Village, which will house a cafe, production facility and warehouse.
 
When Florio launched Inca Tea, it was an immediate success. Within 10 months he had opened a small, 60-square-foot café in Hopkins Airport B concourse and his teas were available in more than 200 grocery stores and Bed Bath and Beyond stores nationwide.
 
Today, Inca Tea is available in nearly 500 stores nationwide, including 70 Bed Bath and Beyond stores, all 39 Earth Fare stores and The Andersons. Locally, Inca Tea is stocked in Heinen’s, Whole Foods, Mustard Seed and Giant Eagle Market District stores.
 
Inca Tea has made the Cleveland Hot List for the past two consecutive years as the area's favorite tea house.
 
Florio hopes to maintain that status as he expands, particularly at the more elaborate Slavic Village location.
 
“Now I have a true home base where I can do it all in one facility,” he says of the Union Avenue site. “Once I walked in, I knew it was the place.”
 
The “place” is a 1930s two-story red brick 15,000-square-foot building with 20-foot-high ceilings that originally served as an electric company substation and later a warehouse. Florio is converting the space to include a 400-square-foot café that will seat more 30.
 
Florio's customers will enter the cafe through a solid oak, 14.foot-high, three-inch-thick front door. The café will be furnished with high top tables and couches among exposed brick walls and the Inca Tea logo painted on a wood wall.
 
The entire café is furnished using recycled materials Florio found inside the building.
 
“We have benches made out of cast iron floor grates, we have the bar, which is made from the recycled corrugated metal that was on the back of the building,” Florio notes. “The main wall is made from the wood that was inside the back wall and the coffee tables are made from cast iron grates and iron piping.”
 
Customers in the cafe can watch the creation of more than a million tea bags a year through a window into the 4,500-square-foot production center. The second floor will have a conference room with a view of the first-floor café.
 
“It’s a unique and interesting building,” Florio says of the space, adding that Slavic Village officials were eager to bring Inca Tea to the neighborhood. “It has amazing curb appeal and is the epitome of what I was looking for to grow the business.”
 
In addition to Inca Tea’s four blends, Florio plans to serve plenty of goodies made by local vendors, including Mitchell’s Ice Cream, Cleveland Bagel Company, Anna in the Raw, Breadsmith, Garden of Flavor, Randy's Pickles, Pope’s Hot Sauces, Nooma, Good Greens and Sweet Designs Chocolatier.
 
“Our main objective for this café is to have a minimum of 90 percent local,” says Florio. “It’s always been my mission to focus on Cleveland-based products.”
 
While Florio prepares to open his Slavic Village café, he is simultaneously planning a second, 310-square-foot café on Hopkins C concourse. He signed the letter of intent to move into the new space last month.
 
“It’s five times the size,” Florio says as he compares the new location to his original location. “It’s more of a full-size café.”
 
Florio adds that the mission to stay local in the products he sells is especially important in his airport cafes. “Customers can come in and take home a little of what Cleveland has to offer,” he says. In addition to his regular vendors, Florio also plans to carry food from Aladdin’s.
 
A late March opening is planned for the Slavic Village Inca Tea, while the timeline for the  airport café has not been finalized.
 
Florio plans to hire five to seven employees at the Slavic Village Inca Tea Café, which will be open during the week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Otani Noodle expands menu, eyes second location

Joyce Luo is a self-proclaimed foodie. She’s lived all over the world and is always watching for new trends in dining. Now that she's landed in Cleveland, her radar is on the 216.
 
“I’m really picky for food,” she says. “I’ve lived in Hong Kong and California, so I’m really picky on food. And I love to eat.”
 
That particularity is what prompted Luo, her son Jacky Ho and business partner Janet Yee to open Otani Noodle, 11472 Euclid Ave. in University Circle Uptown last June.
 
“We could foresee that ramen is a trend. It’s so popular in the big cities like New York, Chicago and Toronto,” says Yee. “We travel a lot and been to those ramen places.”
 
The trio was correct in predicting the trend would take off in Cleveland—especially in a neighborhood nestled amid academic and cultural institutions and two major hospitals. Otani Noodle's popularity has taken off, especially with the lunch time crowds, says Luo.
 
“Lunch is really busy,” says Luo. “When you have [just] an hour, you don’t have to wait too long.”
 
Customers line up in the 750-square-foot restaurant for the traditional Japanese ramen: pork- or miso-based broth with noodles and then topped with pork, chicken or seafood. The dish is nothing like the grocery store ramen noodles that's a life-sustaining staple for so many college students, notes Luo, laughing.
 
“We’re doing well,” says Yee. “American people like noodles.” Luo adds, “Young people love this because it’s new.”
 
An open kitchen offers a direct view of the food prep while customers walk up to the counter and place their orders. The dining room has more than two dozen high-top tables. Take-out and some third-party delivery round out the options.
 
“It’s colorful,” says Luo of the striking red and black interior. “It’s a traditional Japanese theme.”
 
The menu offers 10 options, one of which is vegetarian. The most popular, both Yee and Luo say, is the pork belly with tonkotsu soup (broth made from pork bones) and noodles, topped with scallions, kikurage mushroom, seaweed and seasoned boiled egg. Prices range from $7.95 to $11.95.
 
In the scant seven months since opening, Otani's success has prompted the owners to start a search for a second location downtown. They've also added four donburi rice bowls to the menu just this week, because “I think it’s a good thing to add,” says Luo.
 
The partners are no strangers to operating restaurants and sensing food trends. Yee's family opened the Otani Japanese Restaurant in Mayfield Heights in 1978 and offered up sushi to the established meat-and-potato Cleveland crowd. But it caught on, as did the hibachi style entrees and noodle dishes. “We’ve served ramen for as long as we’ve been here,” Yee says of the Mayfield location. “But we never tried to boast about it. Our customers say we have the best sushi around.”
 
Luo also has a long food history She owned an American deli in Euclid before joining the Otani Mayfield team.
 
Yee says they had planned on offering sushi at the Uptown noodle shop, but ultimately decided against it because next door, Zack Bruell’s Dynomite Burgers, already had it on the menu.

The Otani team opted to be a good neighbor instead of a competitor.
 

Baby Munch launches in Hildebrandt building with 'Gimme a Beet,' 'Peas and Love,' others

Le’Anna Miller’s daughter, London, wasn’t supposed to arrive until January 2015. But her baby surprised her and came a month early on December 1, 2014.

“Any time you have a premature baby, you have a heightened sense of protection. Because she was born a month early her health was the most important thing," says Miller. "We had to feed her with a syringe at first.”
 
Today, London is a happy, healthy two-year-old. But the experience of having a preemie awakened Miller’s entrepreneurial spirit and her views on nutrition.
 
On Saturday, January 14, Miller officially launched production of Baby Munch Organics in the Hildebrandt Provisions Company’s 2,000-square-foot Community Kitchen, 3619 Walton Ave., sharing the space with other tenants such as Rising Star Coffee Roasters Storehouse Tea and Annie’s Sweet Shop in the transformed creative hub.   
 
The inspiration for Baby Munch came in June 2015 when London started eating solid food and Miller wasn’t satisfied with the selection she found on store shelves. “I didn’t like that the expiration dates were 365 days later, and I didn’t see any options,” she recalls. “So I got in the kitchen and started playing around with different recipes.”
 
Miller perfected her recipes, which are all certified organic and handmade in small batches using locally grown and sourced fruits and vegetables. “Even if it’s not grown here, the owner of the company has to be local,” explains Miller. “We want to keep the roots here.”
 
The small batches of baby food are immediately frozen, to lock in the key nutrients, Miller says.
 
London, now two, is Miller’s taste tester and kitchen assistant. “She spends a lot of time sitting in the kitchen with her bowl and her spoon,” Miller says, adding that London has a lot of experience with fresh produce. “I would take London to the Farmers Market every Saturday, and then on Sunday we’d make food.”
 
Now Miller herself is a vendor at the Shaker Square North Union Farmers Market. She opened her stand there for the first time two weeks ago, the same day she began production at the Hildebrandt.
 
Miller offers seven seven varieties of Munch. Her Stage 1 line, aimed at babies six months and older, has apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and pears. The four flavors in her Stage 2 line, for kids nine months and older, mixes things up a little.
 
“We’re starting to add different combinations of fruits vegetables and spices to continue palate training and keep babies curious about trying new foods,” she explains of Stage 2. “Like Appleini – apples, zucchini and cinnamon – Gimme a Beet – beets, mango and cinnamon – Itzy Bitzy – apples, bananas and blueberries – and Peas and Love – pears, peas and mint.”
 
Some of Miller’s recipes are seasonal, such as Pumpkin Patch – pumpkin puree with spices and a graham cracker crust. All of her recipes are designed to develop the palate and offer bold flavors with hints of fresh herbs and spices.
 
This spring Miller plans to introduce a line of toddler snacks.
 
“Our goal is to ignite food curiosity through the introduction of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Miller says of her recipes. “It’s made at the peak of freshness and our colors are fun. Baby food can be fun and it doesn’t have to be bland.”
 
The food comes in pouches that stay fresh in the fridge for two days or frozen for four weeks. One pouch costs $3.25, four-packs are $12. Miller offers a monthly subscription service for $35 and can ship out of state.
 
Miller, who graduated from Baldwin Wallace University with a degree in finance, has some experience as an entrepreneur. In college, she participated in the 2011 Entrepreneur Immersion Week and Competition, where her team won first place for their custom nail polish business. Today she works full time as an auditing associate at a Big Four accounting firm downtown,
 
But Miller knew that she needed some training if she was going to create a business beyond her own kitchen. So she went through the Bad Girl Ventures eight-week entrepreneurial training program in 2015 and was one of the 10 finalists.
 
“It was great experience,” Miller says. “It provided support, networking and the business aspects.”
 
Then she participated in Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen’s food business incubator to learn about food safety, marketing and product labeling.
 
Although Miller is still perfecting her website, customers who are interested in ordering can email or call (216) 925-0818 for more information. When the Baby Munch website is complete, Miller will accept online orders for both delivery and pick up at the Farmers Market. For a limited time, she is offering free delivery within Northeast Ohio.

Chill Pop Shop’s unique frozen novelties advance to national market

Popsicles aren’t usually at the forefront of the mind in the middle of winter, but despite the frosty weather, business is hot for the owners of Chill Pop Shop.

Owners Elizabeth and Maggie Pryor have come a long way from their early days of pedaling their all- natural ice pops to customers at local venues. Not only have they expanded to retail markets such as Whole Foods and Mustard Seed Market throughout Ohio, now they're available at retail outlets across the Mid-Atlantic United States.
 
As of this past summer, Chill Pops are in the freezers of Mustard Seed, Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market throughout Ohio, Washington, D.C., Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia 
 
“It’s so exciting,” says Chill CEO Elizabeth Pryor. “It’s exciting to hear from friends and family everywhere who can enjoy our popsicles.”
 
The Pryors – Elizabeth, a holistic health coach and her wife Maggie, a health and wellness educator – started Chill Pop Shop out of the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK) in 2013 with the intention of making frozen treats using only real fruit and all natural, fresh ingredients.
 
“We started Chill Pop because we’re very passionate about food and where it comes from,” says Elizabeth. “We use all real fruit, grass-fed dairy and fair trade organic sugar. We take great care of where we source everything.”
 
The first year, Elizabeth and Maggie sold their pops at the Cleveland Flea, farmers markets and food truck events such as Walnut Wednesday. By their second summer, Elizabeth and Maggie were catering and serving their pops at private events.
   
The pair soon grew out of the CCLK space and moved to a storefront on E. 185th Street in North Collinwood. Then, while working on their packaging design, Maggie and Elizabeth learned Whole Foods was interested in their products.
 
“We happened to land a meeting with Whole Foods in advance of opening their Rocky River location,” recalls Elizabeth. “They were looking for local suppliers.”
 
It took about a year to get the details and package design figured out, but by September 2015, Chill Pops were on the shelves in time for the Rocky River Whole Foods opening. “They performed really well there,” Elizabeth recalls. “It helped that we had been around Cleveland for a few years, so we had name recognition. We were constantly asked ‘where can I get these?’”
 
By the summer of 2016 Chill Pops were in stores across seven states. Plans are in the works for even more expansion by the spring of this year. “In Northern Virginia and Pittsburgh, they’re buying it off the shelves without even trying it,” boasts Elizabeth. “It’s doing really well in major markets.”
 
Having outgrown their North Collinwood space, Chill Pops moved again in November 2015, this time to a 3,500-square-foot space in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood’s Tyler Village. The space has walk-in coolers and freezers, plenty of workspace, office space and allows Elizabeth and Maggie to do their packaging on-site.
 
Chill Pop Shop now has six flavors of pops: avocado mint chip, black pepper plum, cucumber kiwi, lemon ricotta, sea salt strawberry cream, and watermelon lime, many of which are vegan. Additionally, Elizabeth and Maggie will introduce two more vegan flavors this year: blueberry basil and coco mocha fudge. In all they have created more than 40 flavors.
 
Elizabeth says her favorite flavor depends on the weather, although early-on her favorite was avocado mint chip.
 
While entry into the national market is limiting their time these days, the Pryors are still true to Cleveland. “We’ve scaled back our mobile presence,” Elizabeth says, “But people around Cleveland will still see us out and about.”

Cardboard Helicopter's would-be elves dream up toys, gadgets

The team at Cardboard Helicopter is always busy dreaming up new inventions and designs in their Lakewood workshop. Since launching in 2012, they've designed more than 349 products for their clients and their own interests.
 
Past inventions have included the Splash Infuser, a natural way to infuse fresh fruit into water and cocktails, and the Jokari self-sealing spout for oils and wine bottles. Now the team is getting into the toy market – just in time for the holidays.

“We did housewares for years, but I’ve always had a passion for toys,” says CEO and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Tim Hayes. “It’s just plain fun. It’s making things that make people smile.”
 
The firm’s clients have launched a variety of toys for the 2016 holiday season, most of which are available at big box retailers like Walmart, K-Mart, Home Depot and Amazon.
 
"We've been getting into the toy market and designing for some big brands," says Hayes.
 
For instance, Walmart is now offering the Tricerataco holder, a stand-and-stuff taco holder Cardboard Helicopter designed for KidsFunWares. “The triceratops’ back is a perfect little taco holder and kids can play with it after they eat,” says Hayes. “We invent it and then we license it out.”
 
Then there’s a series of two-wheeled scooters and bikes the team designed for California-based Pulse Performance Products – a stand-up scooter designed to appeal to both boys and girls while attending to safety, and the Safe Start Transform rechargeable electric scooter for riders ages six and older with two speeds and a rechargeable battery.
 
“We designed a version for an older kid, but [Pulse] wanted it to be youthful,” says Hayes, noting that both scooters can be found at outlets such as Target.
 
Then Pulse asked Hayes to come up with an authentic, kid-sized chopper motorcycle. The result is the Chopster E-Motorcycle – designed to mirror a Harley Davidson, the bike has high handlebars, street-worthy tires, a rechargeable battery and sleek lines.
 
“We designed the look and feel of this little bike,” says Hayes of the Chopster, which is selling on like mad at places like Home Depot and Amazon.
 
For adults, Cardboard Helicopter redesigned a series of tools for Smith’s Consumer Products, an Arkansas-based hunting and camping products manufacturer. “They were kind of dated and wanted a while new look and feel,” says Hayes of the project. The result was a sharpener-and-knife tool, and the multipurpose tool, Pak Pal.
 
The small but mighty team of six - which goes up to eight when demand increases - is also entering the pet market, with offerings such as the Critter key chains, an LED-lit animated key chain for finding key holes and doing other small tasks in the dark. Fitting as the company mascot, a pooch named Penny, keeps watch over the Lakewood digs where the team aims to keep designing new products.
 
“We design anything,” Hayes boasts. “We meet to brainstorm once a week on new ideas. “We have a collaborative spirit here, designing new ideas by designing backwards. We turn our sketches into products and then say to our clients’ hey what are you looking for?’”
 
What’s next for Cardboard Helicopter? It all depends on what the team dreams up. “We focus heavily on design and fill the gaps for our customers who like to outsource that aspect,” Hayes says. “And we can do it rapidly.”

Hatfield's settles into Kamm's Corners with more good grub at 'Pork N Bean'

For a little more than a year, Ken Hatfield has sold Clevelanders on his southern comfort food from his food truck, Hatfield’s Goode Grub, at Walnut Wednesdays and Food Truck Fridays. He also cruises corporate parks around town and offers catering.
 
Now Hatfield’s is about to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant and coffee shop: Hatfield’s Goode Grub: The Pork N Bean, at 16700 Lorain Ave. in Kamm’s Corners.
 
Hatfield had been preparing his food for the truck in a 700-square-foot commissary kitchen and is excited to move into the 3,000 square-foot restaurant. The new space has a six-door walk-in cooler, a kitchen hood, a stainless steel wash tub and an Ansul fire suppression system. 
 
“It’s a big jump,” Hatfield says of the expansion. The restaurant will serve Hatfield’s signature burgers and pulled pork sandwiches on picnic tables in the back, while customers will place their food and coffee drink orders in front in a café-style space with tables, chairs and a porch swing.
 
The walk in cooler will depict the same photo of the Hatfield family that adorns his truck. Ken is a descendant of the Hatfield family of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud fame. “It’s going to be a fun, inventive place to be,” Hatfield says. “We’re trying to get the food truck experience in a restaurant.”
 
Originally from North Carolina, Hatfield spent four years as a chef on an international hospital ship and studied under executive chefs at the House of Blues and Hard Rock Café. Aboard Goode Grub, he's become known for creations such as the All-In Burger – a burger with bacon, pulled pork, caramelized onion, dill sauce, barbeque sauce and cheddar cheese.
 
“It’s Southern comfort fusion food,” Hatfield says of his cooking style, adding that he plans to expand his menu. “I’ve taken my southern heritage and flair, added some internationalized style to it and came up with some stuff people really like.”
 
Hatfield's newlywed wife, Jessica Hatfield, will oversee the coffee shop segment of the Pork N Bean. The coffee bar will use siphon brewers and specialize in cold-brewed coffees. Customers can cold brew their own coffees, in which they will get a large mason jar, coffee and any flavors they want. The jars will be kept on shelving behind the counter.
 
Hatfield is building the interior himself using reclaimed barn wood. He's aiming for a family friendly atmosphere. “I think we’ll be a really good fit in the neighborhood,” he says.
 
Kamm’s Corners Development Corporation (KCDC) assisted Hatfield with city permits, securing signage through Cleveland’s Storefront Renovation Program, and helped negotiate a spot for the Goode Grub truck at the U-Haul Moving and Storage across the street.
 
“We saw the attraction of having Hatfield’s in the neighborhood,” says KCDC executive director Steve Lorenz. “Right away we tried to lend a hand.”
 
Fans can still catch Hatfield's food truck around town and for catering events. The Kamm’s Corners restaurant is scheduled to open on Monday, Oct. 31 with a “Hillbilly Halloween.” The truck will be parked out front and a hillbilly costume contest will run from 6 to 9 p.m.

Historic century building in Old Brooklyn soon to house artisanal cheese shop

After spending 16 years in London as a chef, Michael Januska decided it was time to come home. He grew up in Avon Lake, and his family still lives in the area, so he settled in Old Brooklyn.

“The cost of living in Central London is one of the highest in the world,” he says of his overseas home. “My two younger sisters are having kids and I decided it was the rat race or quality of life.”
 
Januska discovered the art of making cheese while living abroad and decided Old Brooklyn would embrace a quality cheese shop. By the end of October, Januska will open the doors to Old Brooklyn Cheese Company, 4138 Pearl Road.
 
“Cheese is simple, but it’s still complex,” Januska says. “I love using only milk and one or two other ingredients and making something quite exquisite and unique.”
 
Januska turned to the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC) for assistance in finding the perfect space for making his cheese and serving his customers. Eventually, he secured a 1,200-square-foot storefront in the historic 1895 Krather building in Old Brooklyn’s Design Review District.
 
Januska was particularly attracted to the glass front and 15-foot ceilings. He got a loan to help with financing the shop and started plans to open. “The support from the City of Cleveland and Old Brooklyn has been amazing,” he says.
 
The feeling is mutual from OBCDC. “For us, Old Brooklyn Cheese Company is the kind of business we know residents want to see in the neighborhood, so it is important to us that [local businesses] feel well-supported and connected to the assistance they need so that they can focus on running a thriving business,” says Rosemary Mudry, OBCDC director of economic development, adding that they were able to connect Januska with small business support services and low-interest financing to establish the company.
 
“By building great relationships with entrepreneurs in the community, we are excited to continue to attract new business to the neighborhood that meets the needs of residents and provide additional amenities so that Old Brooklyn continues to be a neighborhood of choice in the City of Cleveland.”
 
As one of only two licensed artisanal cheese makers in Cuyahoga County, Januska will offer an assortment of his cheeses after they have been aged properly for at least 60 days –sometime in December – as well as from Ohio cheesemakers and artisanal cheeses from around the country and world. His first cheese will be an aged Gouda, available in December.
 
In the basement, Januska is building a 14- by 12-foot aging cave, where he will age his hard and alpine cheeses. He has room to build up to five caves, each for different types of cheeses requiring different humidity levels for aging.
 
“When I’m done with that one, I will build another one for stinky and soft cheeses,” he says.
 
Furthermore, Januska is one of only a handful of cheesemakers in the country who ages cheese for other cheesemakers. “It gives them control because the quality is still there,” he explains. “Once it’s vacuum packed and sealed for distribution, the flavor is choked out. I’ve got commitments from other cheesemakers in Ohio, Maine and San Francisco to age their cheese.”
 
Januska is perhaps most excited about his twist on cloth-banded cheddar – an English technique in which the cheese is wrapped in a cloth dipped in butter or lard before aging. His cloth-banded cheddar will be aged with bacon fat.
 
“I call it the Old Brooklyn version,” he quips. The cloth-banded cheddar will be aged for 12 months before it’s ready for sampling.
 
The shop will feature deli-style glass display cases for the cheeses, which will include an assortment of Januska’s cheeses organized by type – washed, or “stinky;” fresh;  soft; semi-hard to hard; alpines; and blues.
 
At the front of the shop will be two big commercial tables where customers can sit down and sample cheeses, as well as Ohio honeys, bread from Blackbird Baking Company, almonds, dried fruit and locally cured meats.
 
Patrons can choose three to five cheeses from a selection of 15. The experience will serve as a chance to try some new varieties before buying while also socializing with friends.
 
“It’s a happy place to go in because no one goes in angry to a cheese shop,” Januska says. “If they’ve never heard of this and taste it and say ‘hey, I like that,’ or if they say ‘I don’t like it, it’s too funky or salty,’ they can try something else.”
 
Januska says he's thinking of installing a back patio next spring.
 
Even if customers know exactly what they want, Januska wants Old Brooklyn Cheese Company to be a welcoming place. “It’s a nice, relaxed place to enjoy your cheese with a friend and just relax,” he says. “The tables are casual where everyone can have their cheese and gets to talk and share.”

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

Euclid Brewing Company settles in as local gathering spot, launches "Tap Talks"

Doug Fry spent the past 20 years working in corporate America as a chemist. Last year, he got tired of the rat race and decided to take a risk as an entrepreneur.

“I worked for 20 years for four different companies,” Fry recalls. “At some point, every one [of the companies] had been sold and gone through changes and layoffs. I talked to my brother and my daughter and her husband, who own their own companies, and they said the only kind of job security is in entrepreneurship.”
 
A home brewer by hobby, Fry and his wife, Kim, decided to open Euclid Brewing Company, 21950 Lake Shore Blvd. This past April 30 the Frys opened the doors to a 1,000-square-foot bar with a 200-square-foot tap room that houses three two-barrel fermenters and one 15-gallon fermenter that produce about 23 kegs per brewing cycle.
 
Fry’s brewing business model is based on what he and Kim witnessed in their travels to Germany. “In Germany every little town has their own beer,” he explains. “Those are the places we seek out when we travel. We’re not going to bottle or can our beer, or distribute.”
 
Euclid Brewing Company has six taps that will have some regular brews, like its Moss Point pale ale or Isosceles IPA. “Because I like pale ales and IPAs we probably will always have that on tap,” says Fry, “because it’s my brewery and I’m selfish.”


 
Other selections include a Hoppy Wheat, G.D.G.B. amber, Session Saison and Sims Beach Blonde, as well as seasonal brews. Fry will release pumpkin ale this week, followed by an Oktoberfest and some kind of holiday ale.
 
The entire brewing system is displayed behind the bar. “If you’re tall enough you could reach across and touch it,” says Fry of the close proximity in a bar that has a 30-person maximum occupancy. “We wanted everything to be in plain view. It’s like a sculpture.”
 
While Fry doesn’t serve food, he keeps menus from the nearby Beach Club Bistro, Paragon, and Great Scott Tavern to order take-out, or patrons are welcome to bring their own food into the bar. Great Scott just began serving its first keg of Euclid Brewing’s Sims Beach blonde on tap.
 
Fry got a lot of help from the city of Euclid to open the brewery. “Euclid had never had a brewery open within city limits before, so opening the business was a new experience for them as well,” he recalls, adding that Jonathan Holody, Euclid director of department planning helped Fry find the location and with regulatory concerns, while other city officials kept the Frys informed of Euclid’s storefront renovation program and helped with other regulatory hurdles.
 
Councilperson Charlene Mancuso also helped with communications. “She and I discussed starting a concierge service at city hall that could help parties with no small-business experience - like Kim and me - work with the city to accelerate the process from conception to opening,” Fry recalls.
 
In the nearly six months since Euclid Brewing opened it has become known as a place for locals to gather for good beer and conversation. Fry says he and Kim have made many new friends and enjoy the fact that the bar is only a quarter-mile from their Euclid home.
 
“People come in as strangers, sit at the bar and we have all kinds of discussions,” says Fry. “And then they leave as friends.”
 
That’s exactly how Fry wants it. “We have a television, but it doesn’t work very well so people are forced to talk to each other,” he explains. “This is a place to discuss ideas and that’s been a real benefit. I’ve met some nice people.”  
 
In keeping with that neighborhood bar feel, Fry is introducing Tap Talks on Thursday, Oct. 6 – a weekly short lecture series on poetry, policy, history and science. The series runs throughout October and is open to all ages. Attendees are welcome to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. The first speaker is poet Dan Rourke, who will read from his book Catch Me.
 
If the series is successful, Fry says they are considering hosting Tap Talks twice a year.

New business set to bloom in Ohio City

Sisters Brianna Jones and Brooke Witt believe in signs. So when they realized three months ago that each one had been thinking about starting a business, they took it as a sign they should open a flower shop in Ohio City.

“We each kind of had a very similar idea very separate from each other, unknowingly at the time,” recalls Jones. “All the signs pointed to ‘yes.’ We both believe in signs and everything fell into place.”
 
Floral design just made sense. Witt is an avid gardener, and graphic designer who owns the Etsy shop Near and Dear Designs. Jones, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, attended art school and the Floral Design Institute.
 
“Since we both love to design, love pretty things, and love bringing joy to people, flowers seemed like the obvious choice,” says Jones.
 
So Jones and Witt started Lush & Lovely Floristry, a company specializing in hand-tied flower arrangements. The plan was to do it all from their homes – Jones’ in Cleveland Heights and Witt’s in Broadview Heights – when another sign appeared.
 
The two discovered a former gym for rent at 3408 Bridge Ave. in Ohio City. “When we started out, we weren’t planning on having a storefront,” Jones says. “But we were both looking on Craigslist and found it. We peeked in the windows and we were like, ‘oh my goodness.’ We came to look at it and it was amazing.”
 
Lush & Lovely will open Saturday, Oct. 1, in its new home. The duo is funding the business with their own savings. Witt says the airy 850-square-foot space allows for a “working studio” where they can make their arrangements. The floristry will also conduct flower arranging classes, floral design workshops and private events for things such as bridal showers, singles parties and mother-daughter outings.
 
“There will be flowers everywhere,” says Witt. “We want to make flower arranging trendy, fun and exciting.”
 
All of Lush & Lovely’s blooms will be seasonal American grown flowers. Witt and Jones will also use Ohio flower farms whenever possible. “There has been a 70 percent decrease in American flower farms,” explains Witt. “Eighty percent of flowers are shipped in from South America today.”
 
The sisters plan to buy from farms in Medina and Chardon when stock is available. “Everything is grown and cut from the field within a day or two,” says Jones.
 
Customers can buy arrangements and bouquets at the store, or Witt and Jones plan on having daily delivery to the greater Cleveland area, weekly delivery throughout Cuyahoga County and overnight shipping anywhere in the United States.
 
Jones and Witt have already formed partnerships with their Ohio City neighbors and plan on co-hosting events with other neighborhood businesses. “They’re very excited to include us,” Jones says of their neighboring retailers. “It’s very community oriented here.”
 
Lush & Lovely will host an open house on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 4 to 9 p.m.to introduce themselves to the community.

Virtual Compass recreates the tour concept, adds staff and moves to new space

Imagine evaluating possible college choices or exploring a local pub is without ever setting foot on a campus or the restaurant. That’s exactly what Virtual Compass provides for its clients by creating virtual tours of their spaces.
 
Jonathan Fox and Daniel Sullivan became friends while taking a computer science class together at John Carroll University and soon discovered they both had the entrepreneurial bug. So, after they graduated in 2014 the two set about designing an application for virtual tours.
 
“Entrepreneurship to us is making what you want to make and not caring what other people think,” says Fox. ”We focused around destination marketing to take an exciting place and make it look cool with 360-degree photos and virtual reality.”
 
Fox and Sullivan launched Virtual Compass and moved into FlashstartsStartMart to perfect their tool. “It was more of a general idea we had, making something for ourselves under our own guidance,” Fox recalls. “We thought: what if we can help people explore places they haven’t been to?”
 
That’s exactly what they did. Virtual Compass recently launched easy to use, Cloud-based software that allows for quick creation of virtual tours. The software is aimed at marketing exciting places in Cleveland.
 
The problem was, Fox and Sullivan struggled to make any sales and didn’t really know how to market their company. So they brought on former classmate Christine Fleig and St. Ignatius alum Matthew Zupan to round out the team and help with getting the word out.
 
The move helped Virtual Compass thrive. The company now does work for local universities, restaurants and event centers. The virtual tour of Ursuline College in Lyndhurst, the company's first client, is one of which Fox is particularly proud.
 
“The admissions and marketing team use it to encourage students to visit,” Fox explains. “We turn any exciting place into a virtual reality experience.”
 
Now, Fox says 10 other schools have contacted Virtual Compass. Flat Iron Café in the Flats East Bank also uses a virtual tour on its website, Passengers Café in the Cleveland Hostel is another client. The company has expanded by targeting the real estate market and other local watering holes.
 
With a solid team in place, Virtual Compass needed new office space. So this summer Virtual Compass moved to a 600-square-foot space in Tenk West Bank, 2111 Center St. Fox says they are putting in new chestnut wood floors to go with the 15-foot-high ceilings and exposed brick walls in the historic building, which dates back to the 1880s. They have also commissioned a local artists to paint a mural of the Cleveland skyline in their space.

A Place 4 Me launches 100 Day Challenge to end youth homelessness

Natasha spent her childhood in the Cleveland foster care system before living with relatives as a teenager. But when she turned 18, her family informed her that she was on her own and had to leave. With $5 and a pack of gum in her pocket, Natasha found herself homeless.

“I was very confused,” Natasha recalls. “It didn’t really hit me that I really had to leave until after I packed my bags. I thought no one really wants me. I felt alone in the world and I felt abandoned.”
 
Natasha turned to Cleveland homeless shelters before ending up in a traditional housing facility on W. 25th Street while she finished high school and got a job at Taco Bell, where the manager took a chance on her with no job experience and made her a team leader.
 
“It was difficult at first, but I managed to do it,” she recalls. “I was eventually able to move out on my own.”
 
Natasha’s story is just one story among many that prompted the creation of  A Place 4 Me in 2014 – an collaborative housed within the YWCA of Greater Cleveland that  harnesses the strengths and resources of more than 30 partners to help youth age 15 to 24 who are at high risk of homelessness, particularly those who age out of foster care.

Earlier this month, A Place 4 Me launched the 100 Day Challenge to house 100 at-risk youth in 100 days. Cleveland is one of only three cities to be chosen by A Way Home America to participate in the challenge and receive coaching and support toward ending youth homelessness from the Rapid Results Institute.
 
The Cleveland challenge team is made up of A Place 4 Me and 12 other organizations focused on youth homelessness. “This is a collaborative in the community concerned with homelessness and youth aging out of foster care,” says Kate Lodge, A Place 4 Me project director. “There are 500 people a year age 18 to 24 in Cleveland in a shelter – 100 people on any given night – and this doesn’t even count the people not showing up.”
 
Approximately 150 people age out of foster care each year in Cleveland, Lodge adds, and 40 percent are likely to experience some kind of housing instability by age 24. The 100 Day Challenge aims to not only house 100 youth in 100 days, but also reinforce the support systems to prevent youth homelessness. The challenge ends on November 14.
 
Cleveland was chosen after a competitive application process. Lodge says 20 cities applied. In addition to Cleveland, Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles were also chosen. Team representatives went to Austin earlier this month for a convening of the three challenge cities.
 
Cleveland's harsh winters, says Lodge, was one of the reasons it was chosen. “In warmer climates there are hordes of youth homeless [on the streets],” she says. “We don’t have that here. We pitched our goal, and planned out strategies. We’re really focused on helping the youth who are in the shelter get out of the shelter," she says. "It’s going to be intense.”
 
The goals include identifying at-risk youth; care coordination; establishing links to available resources; providing a list of types of housing available; and homelessness prevention through planning.
 
“This is building upon something we’ve been working on for two years,” Lodge explains. “This is going to help us get there faster.”
 
As for Natasha, she is currently living at Independence Place, the YWCA of Cleveland’s permanent supportive youth housing facility.
 
Now 24, Natasha has earned her associate’s degree in business from Cleveland State University and will earn her bachelor’s in international business in December. She says the wants to start her own business and employ young people who need a chance at gaining job experience.
 
“I want to open a business that never goes out of style, like childcare, hair care or auto parts,” she says. “Even if cars start flying, they will still need repairs. A lot of job applications say you need two to three years of experience. When you’re 18, 19, you’re not going to have that. I want to hire younger people and give them that experience.”
 
Natasha’s advice to other young people facing homelessness: “It may seem dark right now, but there is going to be light at the end if you keep pushing toward greatness,” she declares. “This challenge is really close to me. I’m really excited for the 100 Day Challenge because I feel like it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Edwins campus completes second phase

When De’Anthony Harris was released from Grafton Correctional Institution last October, he had a new outlook on his future. And, thanks to Brandon Chrostowski, owner of EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant  Institute on Shaker Square, Harris also has a second chance at a successful life.

During his eight years in prison Harris, now 27, did everything he could to improve his odds in the outside world. “The best thing that happened to me is I didn’t have kids when I went in,” he says. “The only responsibility was myself. I was blessed that I did the right thing.”
 
Harris enrolled in Chrostowski’s culinary training class at Grafton. He also earned his temporary commercial driver's license (CDL) for truck driving, a certification in pet grooming and any took just about any other workforce training program the prison offered.


 
Chrostowski opened EDWINS in November 2013. The restaurant employs former inmates in Ohio prisons to teaches them the inside ropes of an upscale French restaurant. EDWINS has graduated 145 students men and women, with another 30 graduating in December. A new class of 30 started on August 8 and will begin working at the restaurant today.
 
In addition to the restaurant, Chrostowski has been busy building the EDWINS Second Chance Life Skills Center in the Buckeye neighborhood to further help his students get a solid fresh start.
 
Edwin is not only Chrostowski’s middle name, it also stands for “Education Wins,” says Chrostowski – the whole mission of the restaurant and the skills center campus.
 
“If we can educate our students to a new reality and maximize their potential and educate our guests on the level of quality of someone coming out of prison,” Chrostowski explains, “then we can educate the men and women in corrections that there is more than a number to [being] a human being and instill hope inside of our prisons.”
 
When phase two of the project is officially completed next week, Harris will serve as the Resident Advisor (RA) in the student housing dormitories on the 20,000-sqaure-foot campus on the corner of South Moreland and Buckeye in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood.
 
After beginning the $1.3 million construction project on the EDWINS campus late last July, Chrostowski has transformed a once-rundown and somewhat abandoned portion of the street into a vibrant neighborhood. The campus's three buildings house an 8,000-square-foot, a three-story dorm, an eight-bedroom alumni house for EDWINS graduates, a fitness room, weight room, library and test kitchen.
 
“No one wanted to partner with us,” Chrostowski says of his early fundraising efforts. But then $1 million came from two anonymous donors and the execution of his vision began. “There’s a need for housing and there’s a need for someone who wants to be better.”
 
 Chrostowski extensively renovated and remodeled the interior spaces and spruced up the exterior with landscaping and freshly painted trim on the exteriors of the red-brick buildings. Much of the material and labor was done at or below cost by area contractors.


 
From the front of the library building, a sign touting "EDWINS" adorns new a glass front. Chrostowski is expecting granite glass tiles to be delivered any day now, sold below cost to EDWINS by Solon-based Granex Industries, which will border the bottom of the front windows. Fir trees in square wooden planters welcome passersby on the street.
 
The building that houses the newly-painted EDWINS library and test kitchen was in disrepair when Chrostowski took ownership of the property. Just 13 months and $480,000 later, thanks to generous donations and fundraising, the building features new plumbing and electrical.
 
“The building was a total wreck,” Chrostowski recalls as he looks around the renovated room, which at one time was filled with garbage and dead animals.
 
“It never seems to stop,” he says of the work required. “Our students needed this. The student is my boss, so they dictate what has to be done. It’s not what I want to get done.”  
 
Bookshelves and eight computers line the library’s walls, each with internet access and all of Chrostowski’s lessons via Grafton’s Hope Channel.
 
The library shelves are already stacked with about 100 culinary books. The collection continues to grow. “I want to build the biggest culinary library in the state,” Chrostowski says, adding that he hopes to accumulate 1,000 books.
 
Adjacent to the library is the test kitchen, with state-of-the-art equipment for the residents to hone their culinary skills and experiment with new recipes. “The dream is to always be around food,” Chrostowski explains of the setup.
 
Down the hall, past administrative offices, are lockers and showers next to an exercise room with workout equipment and a large-screen television, while the basement houses a weight lifting room. Another basement area is filled with donations of household goods, which will be sold in a planned store.
 
Beachwood-based Thomas Brick Company donated 10 pallets of tile for the test kitchen and locker rooms.
 
On the roof of the building are hives with 20,000 Italian honeybees, whose honey is harvested for many of EDWINS’ recipes. Below is a full sized basketball court, a greenhouse and a chicken coop that is home to three chickens. “The greenhouse will be the spring incubator for our summer vegetables,” Chrostowski explains.


 
Chrostowski recruited Lakewood artist Bob Peck to paint a mural on the wall abutting the basketball court. Chrostowski hopes to acquire the currently-vacant building from the Cuyahoga Land Bank for a future butcher shop.
 
The dorm houses seven apartment suites with room for about 20 students. The suites feature living areas, bedrooms and, of course, full-equipped kitchens.
 
While phase two is nearly complete, Chrostowski already has his sights set on the next phase of his dream to not only give former convicts a second chance at a productive, fulfilling life, but to revitalize the Buckeye neighborhood.
 
Chrostowski is eying a home just behind the EDWINS campus that he hopes to buy and convert into family housing for students. In addition to the buildings directly next door, he's also watching a couple of buildings down the street that would make good storefronts for a future fish market and butcher shop.


 
With the help of Jones Day, Chrostowski has set up the EDWINS Foundation to cover costs for current and future endeavors.
 
For Harris, the campus feels like home. He’s busy managing the final construction jobs, “giving a helping hand wherever needed and physical labor,” while also enforcing curfews and calming residents’ disputes as a certified mediator. “It works, it really does work,” he says of the mediation skills he learned at Cleveland State.
 
Harris is also continuing his pursuit to be a truck driver, hoping to see more of the country, as he’s never traveled beyond Cleveland. “I’ve never been nowhere,” he says, “I’ll go anywhere they tell me to go.”
 
For now, Harris is quite happy on the EDWINS campus. “People ask me, ‘how did you get that job?’ and I say ‘I educated myself,’” he explains. “You’re not just getting a job, you’re getting a family too. That’s your backbone. I would recommend this program to anyone.”

Uptown Saturday Nights: live music to jazz eight venues for seven-week series

University Circle has historically been known as a cultural and music mecca, from the museums and educational institutions to music and family fun at Wade Oval Wednesdays (WOW) and entertainment at nearby bars and restaurants.

Now Uptown is moving to establish itself as Cleveland’s live music neighborhood.
 
To that end, University Circle, Inc., Case Western Reserve University and Roots of American Music (ROAM), along with eight neighborhood bars and eateries, have collaborated to launch Cleveland Foundation Uptown Saturday Nights.
 
The seven-week concert series will celebrate the roots of American music – blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, traditional country, folk, Americana, bluegrass and zydeco, among others – performed by local musicians across multiple Uptown District venues within walking distance of one another.
 
All shows are free and open to the public, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation. University Circle president Chris Ronayne says the foundation has been generous to University Circle.
 
“They’re really focused on the human capacity side of redevelopment,” Ronayne explains. “Over the last decade the Cleveland Foundation has helped us immensely with attention to design, transportation, transit, local jobs and housing.”
 
The idea for Uptown Saturday Nights stemmed from ROAM founder and artistic director Kevin T. Richards and Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern owner Sean Watterson. The two wanted to bring more attention to the music scene in and around Uptown.
 
Richards notes that University Circle is often associated with its cultural attractions, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Institute of Music and the Music Settlement, but sometimes the neighborhood is forgotten for quality live music from more local artists and venues.
 
“The big idea was we don’t get much of a public face to our public performances,” Richards explains. “We saw this as an opportunity to market ourselves and make people aware of the free music.” He and Watterson subsequently launched free weekly bluegrass sessions last November at the Happy Dog.
 
At the same time, Ronayne noticed the popularity of WOW, which came on the heels of the wildly successful annual Parade the Circle, but WOW ends in August. “What we learned from the crowd is people want the music to go on,” he says of the 11th WOW season. “They don’t want it to end with the end of summer.”
 
Uptown Saturday Nights kicks off this Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Nine bands and a deejay will play at eight different venues. See the schedule below for a full list of bands, venues and times.
 
Ronayne says this newest concert series simply is carrying on a tradition. “Historically, University Circle has been a live music neighborhood with places like Club Isabella and the Boarding House,” he says. “Carnegie, Euclid, Cedar are live music neighborhoods and it’s bubbling up again.”
 
He continues: “Cleveland’s on a roll right now,” he says, adding that maintaining that momentum is critical. “If we want to be a music city, we have to keep building on that. We have to keep it going.”
 
The series will be introduced on Friday, Aug. 26 with additional events in Toby’s Plaza on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, with EucFest, a block party with live music, outdoor bowling and corn hole by Corner Alley Uptown, food and a beer and wine garden. MOCA Cleveland will host a free LOADED Concert with the bands Form a Log, Fake Species, and Hiram Maxim at 8 p.m., as well as the fun, funky and free BOUND zine and art fair. For those who haven't seen the dazzling Myopia exhibit from Devo founder Mark Mothersbaugh, a reduced $5 admission will get them into those galleries as well as programming associated with BOUND all weekend. Uptown will also be the destination for Cleveland Critical Mass’ August Ride.
 
Uptown RootsFest, through support from the Cleveland Foundation and No Depression magazine, will cap off the Uptown Saturday Nights on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15. That event will feature local and national bands, food and family activities at Toby’s Plaza and at Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern.

Musical Lineup for Uptown Saturday Nights, August 27

- Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, 11625 Euclid Ave.
Matt Monta & the Haymakers, 9 p.m., Americana
 
Rebekah Jean, 10:30 p.m., Americana
 
- Coquette Patisserie, 11607 Euclid Ave.
Eric Seddon Duo, 7 p.m., Early American Jazz
 
- Roots Garden, Outdoors at 11460 Euclid Ave.
Down the Road, Appalachian String Band
 
- ABC Uptown, 11434 Uptown Ave.
Lost Bob & the Ozone Ramblers, 7 p.m., Bluegrass
 
- The Corner Alley at Uptown, 11409 Euclid Ave.
FlipSide, 8 p.m., Americana
 
- Ninja City, 11311 Euclid Ave.
DJ Knyce
 
- Barking Spider, 11310 Juniper Road
Erin Nicole Neal & the Chill Factor, 8 p.m., Blues/Soul/Rock
 
Tom Shaper, 10 p.m., Roots Guitar
 
- Trentina, 1903 Ford Drive
George Foley, 7 p.m., Early Jazz Piano

Six freelance friends transform former church space, launch Clockwork 9

After working as freelancers and small business entrepreneurs in graphic design, marketing and video production, a group of friends looked up last year and mused, “hey, what if we pool our talents and open our own company?”

That’s exactly what Chris Brown, Andrew Spirk, Eric Way, Adam Huffman, Nicholas Roth, and Dave Pelosi did when they merged their practices to open Clockwork 9 Studios in an old church office at 14305 Madison Ave. in Lakewood last month.
 
The group had worked together in various ways over the past six years, during which they had each expressed an interest in working together more regularly.
 
“One day the stars aligned and fate decided for us,” says Brown. “It wasn't a split second decision but rather a unique opportunity that we all saw as clear as day at the same time. When something like that happens, you don't ignore it. We embraced it and once we laid out our plans, we put everything in motion.”

The six-man company describes itself as “visual marketing redefined,” offering video production services to marketing and everything in between for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike, with unique marketing plans for each client. “We want to do something that’s never been done,” says Brown of their approach. “We want to create the wheel, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”
 
He continues: “We wanted to provide a place where if you wanted to, you could create a concept and see it through all the way to production,” says the marketing expert. “We offer everything [clients] need, from branding to commercials.”
 
But before Clockwork 9 could open its doors, there was a bit of work to do on the 3,000-square-foot space. The 1,500 square feet on the first floor had 20-year old commercial carpeting and laminate tile in the kitchen. The space required outlets and proper office space.
 
Instead of hiring contractors to do the work, the team decided to do it themselves. They read books and watched YouTube videos on how to create the space they wanted while also focusing on the environment.
 
Clockwork 9’s new floors are reclaimed wood pallets found on Craigslist and through local businesses. The group cut, installed, sanded and stained the slats themselves. They fashioned the desks from reclaimed wood as well. A fresh coat of paint and a hand drawn logo rounded it all out.
 
“We were using those beautiful resources that were available,” says Brown. “It was a six-week process to do the whole studio. We’re really trying to create an environment that thinks outside the box.”
 
The team transformed the 1,500-square-foot basement into a storage and hangout area, complete with darts, air hockey, a projector and ping pong.
 
Business has been great so far, reports Brown, and Clockwork 9 is forming lasting relationships with clients, including Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, Ridgid and Coppertop Pub.

“Our goal isn't to do a project once with the client,” he says. “Our goal is for a client to continuously use us for all of their needs. To date we have had three major video projects and many small projects.”
 
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