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Local Food Economy : Development News

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Goldhorn Brewery to be Shaker's first brew pub in new Van Aken District

When phase one of the new Van Aken District in Shaker Heights opens in spring of 2018, Goldhorn Brewery will be one of the anchor tenants in the district’s Orman Building food hall.

The brewery, which opened its first location on E. 55th Street last June, will be Shaker’s first brew pub. The partnership between developer RMS Investment Corp and Goldhorn came about after the realization that both entities strive to revitalize historically vibrant areas, says Goldhorn owner Rick Semersky.
 
“They loved the story of what we did with the [St. Clair Superior] neighborhood and they’re doing the same thing in building the new downtown Shaker,” says Sermersky. “There are a lot of similarities between the projects.”
 
RMS director of leasing Jason Fenton agrees that Goldhorn will be a good fit for the district.

“The Van Aken District is excited to have Goldhorn as a partner and feel their addition within the Orman Building will help anchor the project,” he says. “Rick and his team are a fantastic compliment to the other offerings," adds Fenton, noting that the developer is striving to include the best local offerings in the highly anticipated Shaker project.
 
Goldhorn will occupy 2,200 square feet in a corner space of 20,000-square-foot Orman Building, complete with an outdoor patio and seating that overlooks the food hall. “It’s smaller than the space on 55th, but it’s great exposure,” says Semersky.
 
The Van Aken District will be an open container area, he adds, so patrons can grab a beer while they shop. “They can get food from the other vendors and then come in and sit at our bar, or they can grab a beer from us and go out into the hall,” he explains.
 
The bar will probably have a 12-tap system, with eight to 10 beers on draft at any given time. “It seems to work well for us,” Semersky says of the choices. “It’s not too little, but not overwhelming.”
 
While Goldhorn will offer some of its established signature brews, brewer Joel Wagner says he is already testing different recipes to create beers just for Van Aken. ”I’m playing around with different grains and hops recipes,” he says. “I can do one-off batches, and we have a good variety so people can come in, no matter what their beer style is, and taste everything to hit that style.”
 
Semersky says they plan to move into the new space within eight months and begin preparations. “We will hit the ground running,” he says. “The way we look at Van Aken is it’s an opportunity to be part of the neighborhood’s redevelopment and be a neighborhood brew pub in Shaker Heights.”

The city of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

New Chagrin Falls Heinen's: "Urban in a suburban setting"

When brothers Jeff and Tom Heinen open their 23rd Heinen’s grocery store — 19 of which in Northeast Ohio and four in Chicago — in pedestrian-friendly Chagrin Falls next week, residents are sure to be pleased with not only the quality food offered by the Warrensville Heights-based chain, but also in its convenience.

“I think the number-one thing, is we’re very pleased to have a quality store like Heinen’s come to town and make an investment,” says Chagrin Falls Village mayor Bill Tomko. “With sidewalks everywhere in Chagrin Falls, to have a grocery store where you can walk to is a real plus.”
 
A series of grocery stores have occupied the new Heinen’s space since the Chagrin Falls Shopping Plaza opened in the 1980s, says Tomko, including two original grocers — Mazzulo’s and Fazio’s — and then finally, Russo’s Giant Eagle. Woolworth’s and CVS also occupied a portion of the original space.
 
CVS still remains, and Heinen’s will take over the 26,000 square feet at 20 Shopping Center Plaza that Giant Eagle left in 2014. The store will officially open on Wednesday, March 1 at 10 a.m with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
 
Tomko says the space didn’t quite fit the “big box” approach of Giant Eagle. “It didn’t fit the Giant Eagle format,” says Tonka. “It didn’t really receive the management attention and time it deserved.”
 
Tom Heinen agrees that the store needed work when they took the space over. “We gutted it,” he says of the renovations. “We made it a Heinen’s.”
 
With stores in Pepper Pike and Bainbridge, Tom Heinen says the Heinen's chain has carved a unique place in the far eastern suburbs. “The neighborhood demographic first the way we do business,” he says. “It’s just a good overall fit.”
 
Since 2014, Tomko says residents have been begging for a new grocery store to come into the plaza. “During the vacancy, the biggest complaint we received was ‘why don’t you put in a grocery store,’” he says. “Heinen’s stepped up.”
 
In almost as much time, while the Heinen’s downtown celebrated its grand opening in February 2015, the brothers were already in talks with the plaza owners about leasing space.
 
Tom Heinen calls the new store a bit unique, with narrower aisles and higher shelves than other grocery stores. “It’s kind of urban in a suburban setting,’ he says. “It’s a beautiful store.”
 
In addition to quality food and produce selection, Tomko says Chagrin Falls residents will enjoy Heinen’s emphasis on its ready-made chef-prepared foods and its close proximity. “On those days when you’re tired, you can walk up to the grocery store and get dinner and go home,” he explains. “Or when you’re grilling in the summer and you realize you forgot the ketchup, it’s a huge convenience.”
 
The food offerings fits with the lifestyle brand Heinen’s has created through its culinary team. “We’re always trying to create innovative, health foods,” Tom Heinen says of their offerings.
 
With 48 wines by the glass and 12 beers on tap, customers can also enjoy food and drink while they shop or try one of a series of food and wine classes, pairing seminars and other unique events.
 
Tom Heinen says two large garage doors will open up to curbside dining. “It’s going to be a fun gathering place,” he says, adding that Chagrin Falls has emerged as a popular destination for happy hours, small plates and casual dining. “We think this will be a nice addition to the Chagrin Falls array.”
 
Of course, the new Heinen’s will also offer its standard services, including an in-store butcher with source-verified meats, fresh seafood, quality seasonal and locally-grown produce, an assortment of organic products and a gourmet cheese department.
 
Regular store hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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.

Dinner-for-two, prix fixe specials and competitions in 56 local eateries for weeklong event

The 10th annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week will kick off this Friday, Feb. 17, in a 10-day competition between downtown restaurants for the title of Restaurant of the Year, as well as a chance for diners to shake off the winter blues and get out to enjoy discounts at some of Cleveland’s best and newest restaurants.

“The whole reason we produce Downtown Restaurant Week at this time of year is because February tends to be a slower month,” says Heather Holmes, marketing and public relations director of event host Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA). “It gives people the opportunity to get out to downtown and try something new.”
 
Fifty-six downtown restaurants will participate in Restaurant Week this year — with both the old favorites and some newcomers to the scene — and will offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus for $15, $20 and $40.
 
“Some of the restaurants even use those prices for dinner-for-two specials,” says Holmes, adding that Rose’s Braai in the Arcade plans to offer a two-for-$15 lunch special. Many newcomers, like Parker’s Downtown in the Kimpton Schofield, Nuevo Cleveland, Raving Med and the Burnham — just to name a few of the 12 new restaurants that opened downtown last year — will also be participating.
 
Another newcomer, Chicago’s Chicken and Waffles, at 1144 Prospect Ave. in Playhouse Square, chose not to participate this year.
 
This year, local chefs and restaurateurs in six districts — Public Square/Tower City, Gateway, Playhouse Square, Campus District, Warehouse District and the Flats — will also compete in The Hungry Games: Battle of the Districts for the title of Best Dining District.
 
"It’s a fun thing for the chefs to get behind, and what’s better than a little friendly competition” says Holmes of the battle. “I thought it would be fun to see the Zach Bruell [places] bringing their game and competing against the Michael Symon places.”
 
The winning district earns bragging rights, says Holmes, as well as a mention in an upcoming issue of Cleveland Magazine.
 
Other categories during Restaurant Week are Judge's Choice, Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year. Diners can view the participating restaurants and their menus, as well as vote for their favorites. For every vote cast, diners earn a chance to win free downtown dining for a year.
 
Last year, judges chose Johnny's Downtown as their favorite, while diners picked Elements Bistro and Cleveland Chop took home Restaurant of the Year. The Rusty Anchor at Music Box Supper Club claimed the award for “most mouthwatering,” says Holmes.
 
Additionally, DCA will host a kick-off party this Thursday, Feb. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Cleveland in the Arcade, 401 Euclid Ave. Attendees can sample selections from more than 30 participating restaurants, enjoy cocktails from the cash bar and shop the Arcade’s retailers.
 
“Sponsors will parachute gifts off the balconies,” promises Holmes, and a panel of celebrity judges will name the Judge’s Choice establishment.
 
Tickets are $25, with all proceeds going to DCA’s GeneroCity Cleveland, an organization dedicated to helping the city’s homeless population find permanent housing, get job training and other assistance. The Kick-off party is for people ages 21 and older.

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.

Barrio to round out the Cedar Fairmount offerings by spring

When Sean Fairbairn and Tom Leneghan open their fourth Barrio location in Cleveland Heights in early spring, the restaurant known for its tacos, guacamole and margaritas will be a perfect fit with the Cedar Fairmount District’s vibrant nightlife scene.

“Our big thing is that we don’t want to compete with anyone. We want to complete that neighborhood,” says Barrio director of operations Jake Hawley. “We feel we will bring more people into the area. It’s just going to help everyone.”
 
Additionally, Hawley says the area is rife with Barrio’s target audience. “That neighborhood, there’s so much going on over there,” he says. “That little corner has so much going on. There are a couple of colleges in close proximity, and the kids love our food. We’re open until 2 a.m. every day, so we look for spots that can sustain the late-night crowd.”
 
The new location is the restaurant’s first foray into the east side, says Hawley, and the former Mad Greek space at 2466 Fairmount meets their needs. “We’ve wanted to expand to the east side,” he says. “That place was just perfect.”
 
The Mad Greek had been in business since 1976 when it closed permanently last September.
 
But it’s taking some work to get the 3,800 square feet up to Barrio standards. The team took over the lease six months ago and has been working ever since on an overhaul. “It was in pretty rough shape, shockingly bad,” says Hawley. “We were planning on doing some demolition, but it ended up being a complete gut job.”
 
Leneghan serves as the general contractor for all of the Barrio locations and is overseeing the Cleveland Heights project from start to finish.
 
The first task was to remove some walls. Originally, the entry lobby and bar were quite cramped. “We really opened up the space,” says Hawley. “We blew out the kitchen and created an octagonal bar in the middle of the space.”
 
The bar and open kitchen allow for better traffic flow and speedier service, says Hawley, adding that the kitchen is right by the bar, allowing for easy access for floor staff – not to mention room for the kitchen staff to work.
 
“Our model is to have a kitchen that looks out,” explains Hawley. “Bar backs and food runners don’t have to go in the kitchen at all. It’s hectic enough as it is.”
 
The main dining room and bar area combined will seat up to 150 people. Additionally, 16 additional tables will provide seating for up to 60 people on the back patio, where Hawley says an outdoor bar is planned.
 
Like the other Barrio locations in Tremont, Lakewood and Downtown, the décor will have a Day of the Dead theme, painted by Cleveland artist Michael “Mac” McNamara. While Hawley doesn’t yet know the story depicted in the new location’s mural, he promises it will be fantastic.
 
“We don’t get the story until the artist in finished,” Hawley admits. “But Mac is a very talented welder and painter.” Hawley does know that one of the painted skeletons resembles the image of LeBron James’ famous chalk cloud clap.
 
While Hawley says the mural is almost finished and the walk-in coolers arrived two weeks ago, there are just a few more finishing touches that need to be done before Barrio opens in the spring.
 
“You walk in and it looks like we could open soon,” says Hawley. “We really moved on this project and we’ve had a full crew working every day, five days a week. There’s a lot going on.”
 
Barrio will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday. The Cleveland Heights location will employ 50 to 60 people.

Steaks, craft cocktails, raw bar to be amid offerings in spectacular Marble Room

As designers, architects and construction workers hustle to transform the former National City Bank headquarters into Marble Room Steakhouse and Raw Bar, 623 Euclid Ave., owner and manager Malisse Sinito is juggling a variety of tasks.

But Sinito’s priority is to make sure the massive, three story restaurant, lounge and private party areas offer a warms and inviting environment for everyone who enters the magnificent space.
 
“We want guests to feel welcome, above all,” Sinito says. “We don’t want it to feel intimidating or stuffy; but special, comfortable and welcoming.”
 
The Marble Room will be housed in the banking hall of the Garfield Building, originally Guardian Bank and Trust. The space is the second largest banking hall in the world, second only to the massive L-shaped lobby of the 925 Building down the street.
 
The new Marble Room space encompasses nearly 21,000 square feet on three floors. Sinito and her husband, Frank, founder and CEO of Millennia Companies, bought the building two years ago, as well as the adjoining Garfield Building, which was built by two of President James A. Garfield’s sons. The Sinitos also own LockKeepers in Valley View.
 
Transforming the bank into a restaurant has been a daunting $6 million task. “The challenge has been with working with a non-restaurant space—transforming it, yet protecting and preserving its beauty,” Sinito says. “I’m proud of the amazing construction workers that are converting this historic gorgeous bank space into a new restaurant. It amazes me.”
 
Millennia worked with Morris Nathanson Design on the interior design elements of the Marble Room.
 
The 3,500-square-foot vault in the basement will be a private party area, complete with a pool table. In addition to the steel and reinforced concrete, three-foot-thick vault door, Millennia design and construction director Matt Solomon says the area also gives a glimpse into historic bank security measures.
 
“Back then it was high-tech security,” he says, adding that there is a separate ventilation system and “significant” vault door combinations, among other features. “The vault has view ports to see under the vault floor, lest someone digs underneath.”
 
Patrons to the private vault party area will also have private access through a hallway off of Vincent Avenue.
 
When guests enter through the restaurant’s front entrance on Euclid, they will be greeted by the 8,627-square-foot main dining room, which is flanked by two, 400-square-foot cocktail areas.
 
“They will have comfy couches and seating,” says Sinito of the lounges, adding that they plan on offering signature cocktails. “You don’t have to come in and have a steak, you can just have a glass of wine.”
 
A long bar will line one side of the main dining room. Behind the bar will be a two-story wine cellar, accessible by staff with a switch-back stair on the side wall.
 
A raw bar will be on the other side, featuring oysters, sushi and other items. The main menu will feature prime steaks, fish and “interesting” side dishes, says Sinito, although she says they are still working out those details.
 
LockKeepers executive chef Alberto Leandri will head up the cuisine. “We will be hiring an executive chef for Marble Room who will open alongside chef Leandri, promises Sinito, “so chef Leandri can stay very involved at LockKeepers.”
 
Booths will line the rest of the main dining room, with tables filling the center space. The Marble Room will seat 125.
 
Sinito says that timely service in the large restaurant was a concern. “We had to make sure we addressed service issues so guests wouldn’t have to wait,” she explains. So the main dining area was configured with smaller spaces within the room.
 
Overlooking the main dining room is a small balcony, which Sinito has wired for sound and may feature live entertainment.
 
To be sure, sound was one of the major issues around creating a restaurant in the former bank space. With its cathedral ceilings and marble floors, stairs and columns, noise tends to bounce around. Sinito is addressing the acoustics with planned ivory draperies cascading from the marble pillars and sound-absorbing wall tiles fashioned from teal fabric. Wood floors will also address the issue, as will colorful and funky carpeting. “It’s fun, playful and not too serious,” Sinito says of the contemporary animal-print carpet.
 
The 3,794-square-foot kitchen is in the rear of the space, with another lower level prep kitchen for the raw bar.
 
A marble staircase leads to a private banquet space for up to 150 guests, while the second floor in the front of the building will house 1,789 square feet of private dining space within three rooms. One of the rooms—the former office of the bank chairman—is entirely paneled in mahogany.
 
The third floor will house the restaurant’s administrative offices.
 
The team will incorporate a lot of the bank's history into the overall décor, Solomon says, with old ink bottles, a document stamping machine and other banking office tools on display as design accents. He says they are also considering displaying the original, hand-drafted floor plans.
 
Both Sinito and Solomon say they are in the middle of the entire project—the part that is always the hardest. “Getting decisions made as conditions are revealed are expected surprises,” Solomon says.
 
But Sinito says the work is worth it. “It’s still early on and the fun is yet to start,” she says. “I think the highlight will be when the vision starts to become a reality.”  

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.”

Rickoff students to combine plants, community and the arts in new garden project

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s Office of Sustainability has named 2017 the Year of Vibrant Green Space, and the students at Andrew J. Rickoff School, are working with  Kulture Kids, the nonprofit organization that integrates the arts into traditional education approaches, to make sure the 30- by 85-foot area behind their school on E. 147 St. in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood is as vibrant as can be with a community garden and labyrinth.
 
For the past seven years the Kulture Kids group has worked with students at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District elementary school, using original arts-integrated programs based on STEM concepts to teach them about everything from science to transportation through the arts.
 
This year, Rickoff students will learn about the difference between living and nonliving things, plant lifecycles, the environment, and scientific processes while creating a school and community garden.
 
“Our mission is to integrate the arts into the academic curriculum,” explains Kulture Kids founding artistic director Robin Pease. “With the Year of Vibrant Green Space, I was thinking about what we were going to do, and we found this large green space.” The lesson then became clear.
 
“I thought of the science of plants native to Ohio,” she says. “We thought, there’s so much you can learn from a garden – responsibility, the life cycle.”
 
The three-year project will include flowers and vegetables, many grown from seed by the students in their classrooms. Plants will include sunflowers, bulbs, raspberries, carrots, lettuces, beets, tomatoes, beans, an herb spiral and milkweed to attract monarch butterflies.
 
Pease says they plan to share the garden’s bounty with the surrounding Mount Pleasant community. “Whatever food we grow, we hope to share with the neighborhood,” she says. “And flowers are pretty and smell good.”
 
Kulture Kids is relying on donations for many of the seeds, bulbs and plant material. DistinctCle is donating herb seeds to grow, as is The Ohio State University Extension Services, and organizers plan to take advantage of the Cleveland Public Library’s free heirloom seeds library. Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability have also provided in-kind support.
 
The design also includes an earthworm hatchery to promote healthy soil.
 
The centerpiece of the garden will a labyrinth-like paved trail. “This isn’t really a maze, there’s no trick to it,” Pease says of the labyrinth’s design. “It’s a path and you follow it to the center. I guess it’s a path to nowhere, but it’s a path for meditation, for thought and reflection.”
 
In fact, Pease sees the labyrinth as a potential alternative to detention at the school. “Kids get in trouble and get detention,” she explains. “We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if kids could instead go walk through the garden and meditate and think – to take a moment, to think, to take a breath.”
 
But before the path can be built, Kulture Kids needs both volunteer and materials support. The group is actively searching for someone to donate the paver stones and boulders as well as landscapers willing to work on the garden and path. The group can arrange for transporting larger stone donations, according to Kristan Rothman, Kulture Kids’ operations director
 
Pease points out that, as a 501(C) (3) nonprofit, their funds are limited, but donations are also tax-exempt. “We definitely need a lot of help to do this project,” she says. “We’re looking for a landscaper who will help guide us and we’re looking for donations from the community to make this happen.”
 
Kulture Kids has already received an $18,812 grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture for physical aspects of the $53,000 project, says Rothman, as well as a $7,364 grant from the Ohio Arts Council and a $15,500 grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation for Kulture Kids’ in-classroom residency work.
 
The search for volunteers has turned into its own lesson to the Rickoff students. “We talked to the kids about 'what is a community',” explains Pease. “One kid said, ‘It’s me, but it’s also the principal and the janitor. It’s the gas station down the street.’ They saw that a community is all of us. We have to work together.”
 
To further the community presence, organizers are applying for a Toni Morrison bench. If approved, the $3,500 commemorative bench will become part of the Bench by the Road project, which represents significant periods and places in African American history.
 
Pease explains that the Mount Pleasant neighborhood has a rich history, with African American farmers settling in the community in 1893. In fact, Rickoff School is the site of an historical marker honoring Carl Stokes and Jim Brown that was spearheaded by Cleveland city councilman Zack Reed.

"We're hoping the garden will continue the settlement of Mount Pleasant,” says Pease.
 
The Rickoff Community Garden residency began in October with visual artist Wendy Mahon helping the students with the creation of herbariums. This month the students will begin working with a composer on an original song. Pease will then work with students in late February and early March to plant their seeds in the classroom, while dancer Desmond Davis will work with students to choreograph an original dance in March and early April.
 
The garden will officially launch on May 13, with a formal name and logo designed by the students.

Bottlehouse, Rising Star team up to offer day-and-night libations

It’s been nearly a year since Bottlehouse Brewery and Meadery's Brian Benchek opened his Lakewood location in the old Sullivan’s Pub at 13368 Madison Ave. as the hub for the company's sour beer production.
 
Now Benchek is partnering with Rising Star Coffee Roasters to open a pop-up pour over and aeropress bar, as well as sell beans, merchandise and pastries from Fire Food and Drink, in Bottlehouse during the daytime hours, beginning on Monday, Dec. 19. As it is, the bar sits empty during the day until Bottlehouse opens at 4 p.m.

The partnership came about after Benchek bought the 5,000-square-foot space he is currently renting, along with a 2,000-square-foot storefront next door.
 
“Bottlehouse has been in this location for a little while and [Benchek] had the opportunity to purchase the property,” explains Rising Star general manager Robert Stockham. “It’s a typical Lakewood storefront and it was really crying out for a business. They were looking for a business that would be complementary to them.”
 
After Stockham and Benchek got together, they found that Bottlehouse and Rising Star were a perfect match. In fact, Bottlehouse brews its flagship coffee stout using Rising Star coffee beans.
 
Rising Star will take over the new space in March or April 2017. In the meantime, the company will operate out of Bottlehouse.
 
“We came out to talk to them and we realized we really have the same philosophy toward business,” says Stockham. “They specialize in hand-crafted brews and meads, we specialize in hand-crafted coffees. We realized this was a good pairing and renting the space next door made sense.”
 
The pop-up store will help Rising Start get a head start on establishing themselves in the neighborhood. “We can start building a presence now,” Stockham says, adding that the company has a number of wholesalers on the west side of Lakewood but no retail locations in the city.
 
Rising Star currently has three retail locations – in Hingetown, the Arcade and Little Italy – in addition to its roastery at 3617 Walton Ave.
 
“We will come in during the day and get people excited about the space,” says Stockham of the pop up shop. “Then they can come back at night to get beer and mead.”
 
Rising Star’s opening in its permanent Lakewood location will depend on how long it takes for Benchek to close on the two properties and how much work has to be done on the adjacent storefront. “The space is in good shape so it won’t take a lot of work,” assures Stockham.
 
In addition to the Lakewood location, Stockham says they hope to open a retail outlet in their roastery next year to cater to Cleveland’s tourism industry.
 
Bottlehouse’s Lakewood location hours are 4 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays; and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays. The original Bottlehouse is located on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. The Rising Star pop up will be open from 6 a.m. to either 4 p.m. or 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, opening at 8 a.m. on Sundays.

Business owner, city, county and state collaborate to bring oasis to Euclid food desert

Simon Hussain has found success in the grocery business by listening to what his customers want and need. “If customers need something and you don’t provide it, they stop coming,” he says.
 
Hussain opened his first Cleveland grocery in December 2003 and will soon open his third Simon’s Supermarket in Euclid’s Family Dollar Plaza, 25831 Euclid Ave. The store is located in a neighborhood considered to be a food desert, with limited access to healthy food in an area of dense poverty.
 
Hussain plans to offer fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy food at Simon’s Supermarket, as well as hire 50 full- and 10 part-time employees. While hosting an open house last month at the 27,000-square-foot store, Hussain invited residents to have a look around and provide feedback on what products they'd like to see lining the shelves.
 
Of the 90 residents who turned out for the event, 16 provided comments on a feedback form. Suggestions such as ”Keep fresh food and the store will make it in this area,” and “Make the prices of fruits and veggies more affordable for low income families and single parent families” guided Hussain’s decisions in creating an attractive shopping experience.
 
“It’s a very good location on a main avenue,” Hussain says. “People really want a supermarket around here.”
 
In 2012, the city of Euclid applied for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), conducted through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) to assess the needs of a four-mile stretch of Euclid Avenue. The findings included a section on healthy food access - and the lack of it in this area. Other concerns included store security, employment opportunities and access to quality food options as a whole.
 
“Simon’s Supermarket is an opportunity to address health disparities in this neighborhood through increased access to healthy food, employment opportunities for local residents and by serving as an anchor business that may attract more businesses, jobs and investment,” says Roger Sikes, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities program manager. “[The study] surveyed residents regarding their perceptions and priorities related to health, jobs and environmental concerns. Some of the main issues cited by residents was the need for a supermarket and jobs.”
 
Based on the findings, Hussain, the City of Euclid and the Creating Healthy Communities program teamed up to make the Simon’s Supermarket in Euclid a reality. Hussain received $250,000 from the Healthy Food for Ohio Program for in-store construction and equipment. Euclid’s Storefront Renovation Program provided $125,000 for external renovations and a parking lot upgrade.
 
“This example of collective support from local government, Euclid residents, the store owner, the County Board of Health and the Healthy Food for Ohio Program may also help to expand efforts to implement full service supermarkets in low-income communities across Cuyahoga County,” says Sikes.
 
In addition to the main floor, Hussain says there is an additional 13,000-square-foot space in the basement that's ideal for storage of dry goods.

Hussain plans to open in mid-November.

“It looks very nice, and it’s a decent size,” he says of his latest venture. “I’ve received very good feedback from the community. If you want to stay in the business, you have to have healthy food. People really want that. It’s the neighborhood store, so you have to have what they want.”

Pinecrest moving forward with pedestrian-friendly complex that will employ 2,300

When the associated business swing open their doors in spring 2018, the Pinecrest mixed-use entertainment district at I-271 and 27349 Harvard Road in Orange Village truly will have something for everyone.
 
Officials unveiled additional details about the project’s newest tenants last Thursday during a ceremony that marked the end of preliminary site work and the beginning of construction on Fairmount Properties’ and the DiGeronimo Companies’ $230 million plan to make Pinecrest an east side destination to live, work, play and stay.
 
Calling it the "SUB-urban downtown of the East side,” Fairmount Properties principal Chris Salata said Thursday’s event was a good time to celebrate, noting that the project’s completion is only 18 months away. He says Pinecrest has been five to seven years in the works, involving the purchase and demolition of 31 homes on the 58-acre property.
 
“Functioning as a downtown, Pinecrest will be well represented with retail, office, high-end luxury apartments and a hotel,” says Salat. “The retail will be a combination of the best and new-to-market local, regional, national and entertainment retailers.”
 
Clearing, demolition and site work began on the property in 2015, while vertical construction on Pinecrest began in August.
 
New tenants announced last week include retailers Vineyard Vines, REI, West Elm, Allure Nail Spa, Columbus-based Vernacular, and Canton-based Laura of Pembroke. Salata said an Orangetheory Fitness center is also planned.
 
In January, Fresh Water reported on the forthcoming arrival of Silverspot Cinemas and Pinstripes bowling, bocce and Italian food. Whole Foods Market will build a 45,000-square-foot prototype store.
 
Dining options are chef-driven, mostly locally-owned restaurants, including Red, the Steakhouse, Flip Side burgers, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, City Works Eatery and Pour House, Fusian, Bipibop Asian grill and Restore Cold Pressed juice.
 
Rochester, N.Y.-based DelMonte Hotel Group announced in September that it will build a 145-bed AC by Marriott at Pinecrest.
 
“Given the quality of the tenant mix, we wanted to make sure that our hotel not only complemented but also enhanced the overall project,” says Alexander DelMonte, president of DelMonte Hotel Group. “The AC brand is a lifestyle brand with a focus on efficient and elegant design, the brand is new to Marriott and new to the United States and was, in our opinion, the only option for this development.”


 
Eighty-seven apartments will go in alongside the 400,000 square feet of retail space and 150,000 square feet of Class A office space. Salata reports there will be mostly one- and two- bedroom units, with a few three-bedroom apartments, all of which will have direct access to the 1,000-car parking garage.
 
Additional parking will be available on the street and lots, including a lot that will connect to the theater via a grand staircase and escalator. “No matter where you park, you can get to the main street, Park Avenue, in a couple of minutes,” says Salata.
 
The pedestrian-friendly layout of Pinecrest is just one of the factors that sets the district apart from its nearby competition, Legacy Village and Eton at Chagrin, says Salata. “Legacy has no residential, no theater and only a small amount of office space,” he explains. “Eton has some of that, but we are a true entertainment and lifestyle district around the clock.”
 
The complex includes plenty of greenspace, including a one-acre public plaza where people can gather, attend concerts and other entertainment or simply relax.
 
Independence Construction is the general contractor and construction manager for the project, which will create 200 construction jobs. Independence Excavating worked on the site development. Both companies are under the DiGeronimo Companies umbrella. Currently, the project is on-budget and on schedule for the 2018 completion.
 
When finished, Pinecrest will employ more than 2,300 people.
 
Salata says the timing for Pinecrest is perfect for a region on the rise. “It a great story for Cleveland,” he says, adding that many of the retailers are new to the Cleveland market. “It shows that the [national] retail community is ready for Cleveland.”

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.
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