long-in-the-works toast wine bar set to finally open in gordon square

Small plates. Classic cocktails. A wine list curated by a well-traveled owner with a zest for local food. Shared tables made from old flour bins and lots of cozy nooks for hanging out with friends or snuggling up to a date. A menu filled with items like gnudi and braised lamb.

These are just a few of the wonderful things Fresh Water uncovered during a recent tour of Toast Wine Bar, which is set to open next month in the Gordon Square Arts District after six long years of planning.

Local resident and attorney Jillian Davis first purchased the building in 2006, with plans to open a place where she could share her love of great wine and locavore cuisine with others. The building, which had been vacant for years, is a former bakery and residence that came with cool window seats and built-in cabinets.

Then came a nasty spat with the church next door, which first opposed her liquor license but later came around. After her plans were approved a year ago, Davis started construction with the aid of contractor and furniture designer John Arthur. Toast is now drywalled out and Davis says that she plans to open in February. We know: We'll believe it when we see it. But trust us, folks, it's pretty darn close.

"The space was filled with stuff we could reuse; everything is just kind of getting recycled, which is cool," says Davis, pointing out the empty spot where the bar, which is being built from old doors and will have a zinc top, will be installed.

Davis is very excited about her cocktail list, boasting such colorful names as Vieux Carre, Widow's Kiss, Hanky Panky and Sir Alex. "I'm really into the cocktail renaissance," she says. "If you come here, you'll be able to have liquor, but only what I want you to have." Yes ma'am. And at 13 bucks a pop, we bet they'll be good and strong, too.

The opening of Toast is expected to create eight new full-time jobs in the city of Cleveland. Davis wouldn't disclose her total investment amount, simply saying that she's "doing it on the cheap" with some help from the City of Cleveland's Neighborhood Retail Assistance Program, a commercial bank loan and equity.

Davis, who has traveled the world drinking and eating, is excited about the launch. "When I'm not at work, I read about food and wine, cook and eat. It's my passion."

Source: Jillian Davis
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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