music-themed bar in ohio city aims to create 'jukebox for the city'

It's no easy feat to win unanimous approval from the City of Cleveland's Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) for a variance to open a new bar in Ohio City. With parking scarce in the densely built neighborhood, such a prized variance typically is required for opening any kind of new establishment.

Yet Jukebox, a new bar set to open in the Hingetown area of that neighborhood early next year, earned that approval from BOZA this week, and owner Alex Budin is set to begin the build-out process.

"I want people in Ohio City and Cleveland to embrace this as their jukebox for the city," says Budin, a 29-year-old who is in the process of relocating to Cleveland from Chicago.

Budin has purchased a 100-CD jukebox that he will fill with a mixture of rock and roll classics, music by artists who are coming through town, local artists, obscure picks and even crowd-sourced suggestions from social media and other sources.

The music selection will change frequently and the jukebox will be free or "pay what you like," akin to how Radiohead has released recent albums.

To ensure that tipsy patrons don't program six Michael Jackson songs in a row, Budin is planning to establish some tongue-in-cheek jukebox rules. He also will create a "juke-book" that will help familiarize patrons with less familiar artists, albums, and tracks.

"You're not going to see Katy Perry in the jukebox, but you'll see familiar artists," he says.

Aside from the music, the cozy 1,300-square-foot tavern will feature six to 10 draft beers (many of them local), cocktails, wine and a limited food menu that includes flatbread pizzas. Just don't say the phrase "sports bar." There will be TVs, he allows, but that's not going to be the focus.

"Ohio City has become such a vibrant place -- it's really a destination," Budin says. "As Hingetown evolves, my hope is this becomes more of a neighborhood spot for local residents. There are 200-plus new apartments set to open here. I'm hoping it's a walkable place, and that people can get their coffee at Rising Star in the morning, then grab a beer and light food at Jukebox in the evening."

Jukebox will be located in the Striebinger Block at the corner of W. 29th and Detroit.

Source: Alex Budin
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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