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Local entrepreneur captures family memories between the covers of a book

Sarah Kappus Peck is her family's personal historian, fulfilling a need to record her older loved one's stories before they're lost forever. She's transformed her love for protecting memories into a business, one designed to preserve the histories of families for generations to come.
Called Yourstory Catcher, Peck's boutique personal history publishing service captures the lifelong journeys of its clients the old fashioned way - in a book. She offers them in a variety of styles and sizes, with pages full of photographs and other significant memorabilia.
"I'll go through family photos, artwork and recipes, then scan those in and write a caption," says Peck, a University Heights resident and mother of three. "I tell people you can own a book like anything you'd see in a book store or library."
Yourstory Catcher's offerings are priced out to reflect, among other factors, time spent interviewing subjects and their family members. For example, high-end book packages cost $20,000 and include 25 hours of interviews and preparation of up to 100 photos.
Peck, a former social worker with experience in geriatric care management, says it usually takes a few sessions to find a storytelling rhythm with her mostly elderly "narrators."
"I build up a rapport and trust each time out to elicit the  memories and stories most important to them," Peck says. "As we get comfortable, the stories just sort of unfold."
Not every tale is pleasant, as interviewees share regrets or past decisions they wished they had handled differently. However, most stories Peck documents are uplifting. Her favorite is about man who came to America at age 14 from the former Czechoslovakia. He used a dictionary to teach himself English, put himself through pharmaceutical school, and eventually started his own business.
"It was the perfect American dream story," says Peck.
A first-time entrepreneur, Peck researches, transcribes and edits each interview. The books are created by a professional designer, or by Peck herself using an online publication platform.
Peck launched Yourstory Catcher in 2011, spurred by reminiscences she heard during her social work daysOver the last five years, she has printed about a dozen volumes, finishing smaller books in two or three months, and working upwards of a year on more detailed projects.
Though the cost may not fit everyone budget, Peck believes encapsulating a well-lived life between two covers can be a cherished keepsake for all involved.
"People are surprised when the journey is therapeutic," says Peck. "This (book) can be an important thing for people to do for themselves." 

Naked Trump sculpture heads to auction block next week

A six-foot-tall nude sculpture of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has generated its share of controversy and commentary since its short-lived (ahem) erection in Cleveland Heights, along with four other replicates that popped up in American cities this summer. The statue's newest purpose is bringing more public art to Cleveland Heights, thanks to an upcoming auction at Gray's Auctioneers.

Entitled The Emperor Has No Balls, the piece by Cleveland-born artist Joshua “Ginger” Monroe will be lot No. 1 in Gray's October 26 auction. A private preview is available for bidders on October 19, 20, 21, 22 & 24, 25, with Gray's displaying a life-size photograph of the sculpture throughout the week.
Available for auction live and online, the salmon-colored Trump effigy is estimated to garner $10,000 to $20,000. Proceeds will benefit public art funding in the Coventry Village Special Improvement District, along with public projects developed by community arts nonprofit Heights Arts. Artist Monroe will also get a piece of the Trump pie once the sale is complete.
Coventry Village is where the sculpture was initially placed by activist collective INDECLINE, says Angie Hetrick, executive director of the Coventry SID. Cleveland Heights police confiscated the piece 24 minutes after it was set up near the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard.
Monroe liberated his work in mid-September for a $110 impound fee. Of the five statues created by the Garfield Heights native, the Cleveland piece is the only one he reclaimed. The others were destroyed (New York), still in police custody (San Francisco) or picked up by a private business (Seattle). A Los Angeles sculpture going up for auction October 22 was not claimed by either Monroe or the INDECLINE group.
"It's a really unique piece for an interesting political season," says Hetrick. "We're honored that our neighborhood, of all the cool neighborhoods in Cleveland, was chosen for the statute."
Coventry and Heights Arts leaders are excited to put the auction proceeds to good use. Hetrick points to possible new public art projects similar to the arch at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. park.
"This is a wonderful thing that will bring long-lasting public pieces that beautify the neighborhood," Hetrick says. "What's beautiful about is that street art becomes more street art."
The arts-focused effort is a perfect remedy for a contentious election cycle, adds the Coventry official.
"(The auction) is a chance at a piece of history," says Hetrick. "Love or hate Trump, nobody can disagree this is going to a great cause."

Starting at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 26, Fresh Water's editor, Erin O'Brien, will cover the auction live from Gray's on her twitter feed, @erin__obrien.

Local teen heads to high seas for research, experience

Crista Kieley, a senior from the Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights has been selected as a 2016 Honors Research Program student by the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) to sail aboard exploration vessel (E/V) Nautilus during one of the ship's 2016 Exploration Program expeditions, which offer participants hands-on experience in ocean exploration, research, and communications.
"It's going to be a challenging opportunity," says Kieley. "There's going to be a lot of work involved, but I'm excited because I know we're going to learn a lot."
She leaves for Rhode Island on July 9, where she'll be one of eight high school seniors from across the country at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) engaging in a four-week academic summer program followed by one week aboard the 211-foot Nautilus. Students will live at URI and will work with scientists, engineers, and science communicators in a program that highlights the interdisciplinary nature of ocean science and exploration.
"In Rhode Island, we're going to be doing some workshops and work with ocean drifters, which are used to measure currents," says Kieley, "and on the vessel, we'll be doing data logging."
Upon completing the dockside portion of the program, the students will become members of the Corps of Exploration on the Nautilus. The 2016 cohort includes 22 students and 17 educators from around the world that were selected by the OET from a competitive pool of applicants hailing from educational and non-profit organizations in twenty states across America and Australia. Their participation in the program is part of OET's mission to explore the ocean by seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, physics, and chemistry while pushing the boundaries of STEM education and technological innovation. Kieley's Nautilus adventure is one of several expeditions from May through September in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The group will explore the California Margin, a broad area off the coast of California in that is crisscrossed by seismically active faults. Kieley and her peers will stand watch alongside scientists and engineers. They'll also participate in live interactions with shore-based audiences via Nautilus Live, a 24-hour web portal by which landlubbers can keep track of the action. The group will also communicate via social media including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
This is not the University Heights native's first multi-day mission amid the waves. She has twice participated in the Rotary Club of Cleveland's Youth Empowered to Succeed though Sailing program – Project YESS. As a "novice" in a 2014 and "ambassador" in 2015, she sailed the Great Lakes aboard the tall ship S/V Dennis Sullivan.
"It was not only sail training," says Kieley of her time on the Sullivan. "We did a lot of water quality testing while we were out there."
Even with that experience under her belt, she admits she's harboring a little trepidation regarding the forthcoming trip on the massive state-of-the-art Nautilus research vessel.
"I'm just nervous because it's doing something I've never done before," she says, adding nonetheless that she is excited to have such an immersive opportunity to learn about the field of oceanography.
"I'm really looking forward to the week at sea."

Heights' own 'breakfast Cheers bar' celebrates 35 years

On July 27, 1981, the Inn on Coventry opened amid the chaos of the Coventry Village Street Fair, offering a simple menu of eggs, breakfast meats and $1 pancakes. After 35 years on the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights, diner owners Debbie Duirk and Mary Haley are still serving "comfort food at comfortable prices," and have no plans on stopping anytime soon.
To celebrate, the dine-amic duo will be dishing up tasty grub at 1981 prices during a July 27 "Throwback Wednesday" anniversary event. Hungry attendees can arrive for the free coffee and $1 buttermilk pancakes, and stay for raffle prizes including diner gift certificates and an authentic Coca-Cola bike.
"This (anniversary) shows our success and how many great people we've met along the way," says Duirk.
The three-generation, family-friendly neighborhood restaurant was initially founded as the "in place to be" by Duirk and her business partner. Haley's mother, Amy, served as the establishment's first chef, helping cement the Inn's iconic status with her banana orange waffles and other scrumptious goodies until she passed away in 1997.
While the banana orange waffles are no longer available, the Inn's vast menu has nine different versions of Eggs Benedict as well as a variety of spicy selections including huevos rancheros
"We say we're still doing home-style cooking after all these years," Duirk says.
In preparation for the anniversary festivities, the Inn will close from July 11 to July 23, using that time to add new carpeting and a fresh coat of paint. When reopened, the diner will look much the same as it did on that July day over three decades ago, Duirk promises.
The years in between have seen the Heights' very own "breakfast Cheers bar" fill bellies at a fair price. Not all those days have been easy ones, either. Duirk recalls a fire in the district that closed the Inn for several months in the mid-80s. Then there were the street remodelings in the 90s that made it difficult to attract customers. And of course, the loss of Haley's mother a week before her 97th birthday was a blow to the owners and patrons alike.
Despite it all, the Inn has persevered as a Cleveland Heights institution that Duirk looks forward to shepherding along for another 35 years. The diner's success can be ascribed to a few simple yet critically important reasons, its co-owner says. 
"Quality, consistency, cleanliness and a hospitable staff that makes you feel like you're home," says Duirk. "That's what people look for when they go out to eat." 

Two artists pair up to make web-based millennial drama, comedy

Jasmine Golphin began writing screenplays when she was 13 years old, although she’s not so proud of her early work. “They’re teenage angst scripts that will never see the light of day,” the Cleveland Heights resident promises, “but it’s been a long-term passion for me, almost embarrassingly so.”

Now Golphin, 29, is a little more confident in her work. While working as program director for MyMedia, a program for teens interested in journalism and video production, she founded the production company Welcome to Midnight in 2010. The company has put out more than eight works since.
At the same time, Nordonia Hills area resident Erin Johnson, 26, was pursuing her own writing interests while working as a quality assurance and marketing associate at Ardleigh Minerals, an industrial recycling company in Beachwood.
Both women were working on their own projects when, in October 2014, a mutual filmmaker friend introduced them. The two hit it off and eventually they collaborated on the web series To New Beginnings, which follows six young adults’ lives and covers topics such as class, family issues and mental health. The six-episode series launched on Facebook in December.
“'To New Beginnings' is a product of its time,” says Golphin, the series’ writer and director. “The story is about real people, not idealized versions of ourselves.”  The entire show is based in Cleveland and features local musicians and artists.
“It very much takes place in Cleveland with plenty of Cleveland references,” Golphin says. “And it’s very much purposeful. It’s a running gag that everything takes place in Cleveland and centers around Batman.”
Johnson works on the marketing team. “It’s been great working with Welcome to Midnight,” she says. “There’s an emphasis on telling stories that aren’t normally told and in a novel way.”
Golphin and Johnson plan to make two more seasons of “To New Beginnings,” with shooting to begin in May and a release date for season two late this summer.
In the meantime, the pair is working together again on the comedic web series “The Adventures of Fab Jenkins,” premiering in March.
“'Fab Jenkins' is a Blaxploitation-inspired web comedy following the journey of Cleveland-based stylist, Fabio ‘Fab’ Jenkins,” explains Johnson. “Fab, with the help of his Fab Squad, must save the city from an onslaught of bad fashion caused by the expansion of fast fashion retailer, Eternally 16.”
But there is a local purpose as well. "The show also aims to showcase the independent fashion and beauty community in Greater Cleveland and beyond,” Johnson says.
“Fab Jenkins” was written by Johnson and her mother, Cynthia K. Johnson, after a random, casual conversation. “We were talking one day, and my mother was holding a blow dryer as if she were a secret agent,” she recalls. “It then led us into a back and forth conversation where we imagined a character who was a stylist with agent/superhero-like tendencies.”
After fully developing the script, getting advice from some local pros, “Fab Jenkins” began production via Welcome to Midnight, with Golphin directing. Johnson is co-creator and producer of the show that includes local award winning actors and plenty of Cleveland sightings throughout.

In search of Lake Erie: Tracing streams' paths and histories

When Jim Miller retired as a Cleveland Heights probation officer nine years ago, he developed a rather unusual hobby: he began tracing the brooks and streams flowing through Cleveland’s east side, seeking out where they exist and where they flow underground all the way to Lake Erie.
“I began just looking at local waterways, trying to detect them and their link to the lake,” Miller recalls, adding that some streambeds are exposed and others have been erased over the decades. "When you look at it, it’s often a strong economic reason.”

Miller explains the economic correlation: he often found waterways that were buried on smaller properties, while the streams ran open on larger plots of land. “On a 1912 plot map, on the bigger lot sizes the stream is in the open,” he says. “By Coventry School on Lancashire Road, it goes under. By the Rockefeller estate and Forest Hills Park, it’s open.”
Miller’s interest in the waterways was piqued 15 years ago after reading his friend and Green City Blue Lake director David Beach's account of a bike ride along the Dugway Brook watershed, which runs through the Heights, into East Cleveland, Cleveland and Bratenahl before emptying into Lake Erie.
“You have to get some pretty good rubber boots to do this," he says. "It’s often not so clear what land you’re on. It’s often city land or hasn’t been lived on for 100 years. You have to do a lot of research to find out, because it’s kind of no-man’s land.”
Miller explains that “Dugway Brook is one of the bluestone creeks that were of great economic benefit to the early European settlers in the 19th century,” he says of the long-gone quarries, "but which then were deemed of no value in the 20th century." Much of Dugway was buried in culverts.
Miller has also traveled portions of Green CreekDoan Brook and Nine Mile Creek, much of which is under Belvoir Boulevard, but there are sections still flowing in the open. “It’s in a steep ravine, so it couldn’t be built on,” says Miller. “If it had been a park, it would have been covered over.”
In fact, Miller cites a section of Dugway Brook between Lee Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, near Cain Park, that was filled in during the 1980s to make way for a parking lot. Residents resisted the parking lot idea so the land remains vacant, although no water can be seen.
A reclamation success story, however, exists along a portion of Nine Mile Creek in South Euclid across from Notre Dame College. The city created a wetland area and planted native plants such as milkweed to attract birds and monarch butterflies. “It really looks nice and that branch of Nine Mike Creek has taken on life,” Miller says. “It isn’t the way it looked 100 years ago, but it’s nice.”
Further down, on Euclid Avenue, the creek now runs buried beside Luster Tannery, a circa 1848 building on the Cleveland-East Cleveland border. The tannery diverted essential water from the creek for its work in the 19th century. “When you get to Euclid Avenue, there is a building there that is probably the oldest industrial structure in the city,” explains Miller. It’s made of solid stone and the creek runs through the building.”
But Miller’s true love of the east side watersheds lies in Dugway Brook. He’s had marker signs erected, mostly along Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. “You probably didn’t even know this little stream had a name,” he says. “We can have wetlands there, so you can have water soaking in to prevent runoff and attract birds.”
Miller encourages people to keep an eye out for natural dips in the road – often indicating the presence of Dugway or other area watersheds.  
His treks have sometimes been perilous, but it’s worth the journey. “It’s very hard to walk and see these things,” he warns. “In many cases, it’s quite difficult. You go down and it’s a steep slope. You have to do it slowly.”
But Miller frequently co-leads tamer walks around these creeks and watersheds. In 2014 he helped lead a tour of Dugway Brook east branch from Cain Park down to Forest Hills Park.
Another walk, led by Roy Larick, along with Miller and Korbi Roberts, is tentatively scheduled for May. "Cleveland Heights Rocks & Waters 2016: Nine Mile Creek" is part of the annual Preservation Month, co-sponsored by the Cleveland Heights Historical Society, Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission, Noble Neighbors and Heights Library.
On sidewalks and forest paths, the hike follows Quilliams Creek on its course to join Nine Mile Creek. Participants will learn the local geology, ecology and history as well as discuss how best to conserve this unique bluestone landscape. 
Miller has documented his explorations through a photo journal on Facebook. He’s also logged his trips along Dugway on YouTube.

Cleveland Coffee and Dellavedova create a buzz with a new blend

Just in time for Australia Day today, Tuesday, Jan. 26, Cleveland Coffee Company yesterday introduced a new coffee blend in honor of Australian native and Cavs point guard Matthew “Delly” Dellavedova, called G’Day Mate.

Created by Delly himself, the blend is of Sumatra and Peruvian coffees – Sumatra, which borders Australia, and Peruvian, which is known for its velvety texture, create a rich aroma and bold flavor.
After going through the chain of command, Cleveland Coffee owner Brendan Walton first invited Delly to come to his roaster back in December, after taking note of the basketball player’s love for coffee during the NBA Playoffs.
“It seemed to be his beverage of preference before, and sometimes during, the game,” says Walton. “So I invited him to our warehouse to do coffee roasting 101, which was cool because he’d never seen it done before. He was very interested and asked a lot of questions, so we had him do one of the roasts.”
Walton says Delly, who drinks his coffee black, prefers a dark roast with bold flavor. So after tasting a few blends, Walton and Delly developed a suitable flavor profile in G’Day Mate.
Walton delivered the new blend to 40 area retailers yesterday. The G’Day Mate blend will be available through the end of June in stores, online and at Walton’s cafe in A.J. Rocco’s, 816 Huron Road.
Furthermore, Walton announced that Cleveland Coffee Company will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from G'Day Mate sales to All Faiths Pantry, a non-profit organization in Old Brooklyn that works with the Cleveland Food Bank to deliver groceries to seniors and other people with limited mobility.
“I think it will go over well, and Delly was very receptive to that,” says Walton. “[Executive director] John [Visnauskas], he’s a good soul working to help people out. I’m sure it will sell.”
The Cavs played their first "Australia Day" game last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves and wore their gold uniforms to honor Australia’s colors, gold and green. The Cavs won, 114-107.

Valet service makes cruising Lee Road nightlife a snap

The Tavern Company owner Chris Armington and his fellow business owners along Lee Road in Cleveland Heights were tired of hearing their customers complain about how difficult it is to find parking on the weekends.

So they got together to solve the problem and, hopefully, increase their business traffic.

Most of the restauranteurs, bar owners and the Cedar Lee Theatre got together and hired VIP Valet to park customers’ car on Fridays and Saturdays. “It’s a convenience for customers,” says Armington. “Everyone’s biggest complaint is parking, walking, getting tickets.”
For $5, patrons can park at any of the four valet stations located in the business district along Lee Road – from Taste and Brennan’s Colony  to Parnell’s Pub. When they are done eating, drinking and catching a movie, they can pick their cars up at any station – regardless of where they dropped it off. Even establishments like Lopez, which has its own lot and valet, are participating.
Customers do not have to specify where they are heading to use the service. “They won’t turn anyone away,” says Armington. “The business owners are paying for it [the up-front costs] so people can have fun all evening at the restaurants and bars.”
Of course, the convenience also means better traffic for the business owners. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” Armington says, adding that the LED “valet” sign cones VIP uses make the valet stations easily identifiable, “inviting and safe.”
The service, which began on Friday, Dec. 18, is slowly catching on, according to Armington, with more people using the service as word spreads. “Every weekend is a little better and better,” he says. “Ideally, we want to make Lee Road a destination where people can go, park and then go anywhere.”

Pieces of rust belt history come to life at Heights Arts' Remade in Cleveland show

Local artisans who upcycle industrial materials from the rust belt into imaginative, yet functional household objects will be kick off the 2016 Heights Arts season with the gallery's “Remade in Cleveland” exhibit.
The work of Doug Meyer’s Rustbelt Rebirth, Kevin Busta, and designers with Rustbelt Reclamation will be showcased in an exhibit that features everything from furniture to accessories using repurposed materials dating back to 100 years ago in Cleveland’s history.
The artists use locally sourced wood and metal to create items such as custom tables, seating, lighting, mirrors, wall features, and tabletop objects such as clocks, serving boards and wine caddies.
“Cleveland is in its second cycle,” says Greg Donley, head of the gallery committee, founding Heights Arts board member and assistant director of creative services of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “One hundred years ago it was in its first boom. All of these things used to build Cleveland are seeing second lives.”

Meyer fell in love with ceramics while in high school, but instead turned to welding through a Job Corps program. He led the metal fab shop at furniture maker Cleveland Art before starting Rustbelt Rebirth in 2009.
“Things that get my creative mojo going: Science fiction movies, surrealist landscapes, googie architecture, electronic music, art deco and mid-century modern design, the streamlining movement, quantum physics, and mysticism,” Meyer says of his inspiration.
Meyer says he is glad Heights Arts is exploring the upcycle trend with Remade in Cleveland. “I'm glad to see that the movement is gaining traction and champions,” he says. “It's forced us all to look at things in a different light in terms of quality, design, and creative re-interpretation.” 

Donley defines Meyer’s work as combining raw materials with bent metal. “Meyer simultaneously uses mid-20th Century modern design in a combination of raw materials,” he says.

Busta creates items like lamps made of industrial cast iron fixtures, while Rustbelt Reclamation takes mahogany molds used to make cast iron fixtures and turning them into art.
“Cleveland has a long history of making objects with function and design,” says Donley. “Almost everything in [the show] is stuff you live with – chairs, tables you can eat on.”
The show opens on Friday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. and runs through Saturday, Feb. 27. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
On Thursday, Feb.11 at 7 p.m., an  artist talk and ekphrastic poetry event will be held, during which the artists will share their inspirations and challenges from working with salvaged and repurposed materials, while local poets Terre Maher, Mary Quade, Barbara Sabol and Barry Zucker will respond with original verse inspired by select objects in the exhibition. 

Rudy’s Pub to fill former Cedar Lee Pub space on Lee Road

When the owners of Rudy’s Pub on Van Aken Boulevard in Shaker Heights learned they had to close their doors last summer, the group of regulars who had been going to the bar for the past nine years were frantic.

“We had grown men crying at the bar,” recalls co-owner Amanda Elfers, who owns Rudy’s with her fiancé Quintin Jones. The doors closed for good on October 3. Then, some friends and regulars told Elfers about the vacancy left on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights when the Cedar Lee Pub and Grill closed for good in mid-October.
Elfers drove by the place, and on November 13 she and Jones took ownership. Rudy’s Pub will open once again at 2191 Lee Road on Friday, Dec. 11.

In addition to their loyal clientele from their previous location, Elfers and Jones look forward to meeting new customers on the popular Cleveland Heights bar and restaurant strip.
“I think we will fit in really good,” says Jones, adding that Rudy’s will be a “grown and sexy spot. Everyone has their specialty around here.” Other owners on Lee reportedly are eager for Rudy’s to open.
In fact, in addition to Rudy’s regular 50-cent wing nights, Friday all-you-can eat fish fries and ladies’ nights, Jones says he wants to work with other area bar owners on a “round-robin” type night, in which everyone will profit.
The pub has an extensive menu, including Jones’ famous fried chicken wings, pasta dishes and seafood. Jones has an extensive culinary background, having cooked professionally for more than 30 years worked with many of Cleveland’s better-known chefs and at restaurants such as Lopez y Gonzalez and Noggins. He was the first African-American chef to cook on the hot line at Oakwood Country Club in the 80s.
Elfers grew up playing piano in restaurants, and bartended while in college. After living in Russia, starting the hard rock band Seven 13 and touring South Africa, Elfers bought the former Noggins in 2006. The bar is named after her great uncle, Rudolph Vogler, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.
Rudy’s will have a full bar, including Elfers’ wicked Long Island iced tea. “Drink two and you’re good,” jokes Jones. “People know not to play.”
Elfers met Jones in 2009 when he walked into the pub and offered to help her out in the kitchen. She took him up on the offer and the two are now engaged to be married.
Rudy’s will cater mostly to the over 40 crowd, but everyone is welcome. Jones likens the atmosphere to the fictional bar on the television show “Cheers,” saying that patrons just chat, and watch sports.  
The bar will broadcast sports games on 10 televisions, one of which is a projection television. They will have live music, mostly jazz, about once a month, karaoke nights and will have Rudy’s famous tropical parties. When the weather allows, the entertainment will take place on the back patio.
With only three weeks to open Rudy’s, Jones and Elfers have been working with a crew of close friends and acquaintances to ready the pub for opening day – painting, hanging vintage photos, refinishing the floors and other tasks.
Rudy's employs an average of 10 to 15 people and is currently hiring at least seven people in all aspects of the restaurant industry. The pub will be open seven days a week, from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.  Rudy's also can be rented for private parties. 

Haus Malts revives an industry forgotten in Cleveland since prohibition

Like many new college graduates, Andrew Martahus was on a seemingly never-ending quest to find a job after earning his chemical engineering degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014.
“I was interviewing to find a job in Cleveland and nationally, but nothing seemed to stick,” Martahus, 23, recalls. “So I started brewing beer.”
It sounds like a typical hobby for a new grad without a job. But the beer brewing turned into a curiosity about the process – and of the malt that goes into beer. That curiosity turned into the creation of Haus Malts last April, a craft malting institution for local commercial craft brewers. It is the first Ohio malt house since prohibition.
Haus Malts will create custom malts in batches for local breweries. Grains are soaked, partially germinated, dried and roasted to turn them into malt. Martahus would like to eventually expand the business to serve the food industry and home brewers. In fact, the company has already partnered up with Mennel Milling Company in Fostoria, Ohio.
After telling his father, Craig, about his interest in the malt process and touring a malt house in Asheville, North Carolina, the son and father team decided to go into business in Cleveland and revitalize an industry that once thrived here.

“There used to be a large malt house on W. 11th and Front Streets,” explains Martahus. “Cleveland and Cincinnati were two of the largest brewing cities before prohibition.”
The aroma of the MidTown building the Martahuses purchased on Carnegie Avenue is more like a bakery than a place where grain is converted to malt. “During the fermentation process it sort of smells like cucumbers, a very fresh smell,” Andrew says. “When its in the kiln it’s a grassy or hay smell, like darker bread.”
The business fits right in with its neighbors – Pierre’s Ice Cream to the north and American Sugar to the east. “It’s sort of like a food block here,” Martahus says. “We wanted to be downtown somewhere and we liked the idea of taking an old building built in the 1900s and keeping it going.”
Martahus says he has secured verbal agreements with Great Lakes Brewery, Nano Brew, Market Garden Brewery and Platform Beer Company, Brick and Barrel and  the BottleHouse Brewing Company.
While Martahus is still working out the kinks before officially opening, he does give tours on request

Mod Meals offers fresh, locally-sourced meals delivered right to your door

Eating delicious, healthy food on a busy schedule is about to get a lot easier. Beginning next week, some of Cleveland’s most prized chefs will cook locally-sourced, health-conscious meals that will be delivered directly to customers' doors through a company called Mod Meals.

With a few clicks, customers can choose from a daily rotating menu of entrees, side dishes and kids' meals on both the Mod Meals website and app. “We take the headache out of making dinner,” says Mod Meals marketing director Scott Churchill. “It’s tough to keep business going, it’s tough to go out. We bring it right to your door.”

Started by entrepreneur and CEO Bruce Teicher, Mod Meals' participating chefs include Ben Bebenroth, chef owner of Spice Kitchen and Bar; Karen Small, owner of The Flying Fig; Eric Williams, chef owner of Momocho and El Carnicero; and Brian Okin, chef owner of Cork and Cleaver Social Kitchen and Graffiti. Additional chefs are expected to be announced soon.
Mod Meals will feature four to five entrée choices each day, four to five side dishes and a selection of kid-friendly fare. “We’re really focusing on kids’ meals,” says Churchill, who cites Bebenroth’s meatloaf – jam-packed with vegetables and shows smiley faces and frown faces when the loaf is cut – as one fun option for kids.

Some of the planned menu items include wood-grilled chicken,; arugula pesto and potatoes; chili garlic salmon with steamed broccoli; smoked brisket with Memphis barbeque sauce and crunchy slaw; seasonal crudite with hummus and dukkah; Asian noodle salad with cashew dressing, carrot and bok choy; kale, dried cherries, mustard caper vinaigrette, egg; and a squash and coconut bisque.

Meals will cost between $10 and $14, with a $2.95 delivery fee. “Our overhead is lower because we don’t have a restaurant,” Churchill explains. “But we’re piggy backing off the growing foodie scene here.” Menus will be posted a couple of days in advance so users can make their selections and choose their delivery times. Deliveries will be between 4 pm and 10 pm.
Additionally, with every order placed Mod Meals will make an equivalent monetary donation to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.  
Mod Meals plans to start delivery on Monday, November 9 to downtown and the east side suburbs. The company plans to expand delivery to the west side within the month. Go to the Mod Meals website to get the app or place orders.

Micah's brings a taste of Ghana to Cleveland stores

While a student at Hiram College, Nana Kwamena Takyi-Micah caught the entrepreneurial bug. At the same time he was craving the spicy flavors of his mother’s cooking in his native Ghana. So Takyi-Micah put the two loves together and created Micah’s Specialty Foods.
Micah’s signature product -- Supreme Sauce – is a taste of Ghana in a spicy tomato-based sauce and marinade with habanero and green peppers and onion. “My mom gave me the recipe,” Takyi-Micah says. “She taught me how to cook. What makes it unique is its flavor and versatility”
After getting his mom’s recipe, Takyi-Micah began making the sauce and passing it out to friends on the Hiram campus. People loved it, and in 2011 he was pitching his product against 11 other Northeast Ohio colleges at the Entrepreneur Immersion Week at Ashland University. He didn't fare very well.
“We didn’t even make it to the top three,” Takyi-Micah recalls. “So I started putting together a business plan.”
Four years later, Takyi-Micah today works out of his East Cleveland home and bottles Micah’s Supreme Sauce at the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen. His sauce is in 20 stores around the region, including Zagara’s Marketplace in Cleveland Heights and Narrin Asian Spice and Sauce at the West Side Market.
Takyi-Micah spends his weekends passing out samples in local stores to promote his product. “We demo it as a salsa because the cost of chips is cheaper than doing marinated meat,” he explains. “Because of its versatility we’re able to reach different demographics. Most of our customers are white, but Hispanics like it, lots of Africans, and Asians like it as a salsa. It’s like everyone’s product.”
Sales have been good -- Takyi-Micah sells an average of 20 to 25 cases a month – and he plans to soon expand to Columbus, Indiana and New York City. “We want to be in 10 other African markets in the next 10 months,” he predicts, adding that there are more than 100 African markets in New York alone. “We want to establish a presence and promote the product efficiently.” Takyi-Micah has one employee to assist with social media and marketing and has a photographer on contract.

Now Takyi-Micah is working on additional products, including a powdered ghost pepper rub for kabobs and his own version of a hot and spicy barbeque sauce.

FutureHeights to offer mini-grants for neighborhood improvement projects

In an effort to improve Cleveland Heights neighborhoods and create a new kind of social interaction, FutureHeights is now offering mini-grants of up to $1,000 for neighbors to get together for improvement projects.
“It’s a way to strengthen our neighborhoods,” says FutureHeights executive director Deanna Bremer Fisher. “The way we do that work is with our residents and strengthen their assets.”
The grass-roots program is loosely based on Cleveland’s Neighborhood Connections program, which offers grants of up to $5,000 for neighborhood enhancement projects and is partially responsible for the creation of popular events like Larchmere PorchFest.
Years ago, Bremer Fisher says neighborhood block clubs were prevalent in Cleveland Heights. While some of the groups still exist and thrive, such as in the Fairfax neighborhood where the block has as many as 10 events a year, many of the groups have dissolved.
“This will be an incentive to be able to do small projects – do little things from a social aspect or physical appearance,” says Bremer Fisher. “Whether it’s a project that works on some aspect of physical appearance or strengthens a social network, we’re really open to all ideas. Let’s talk about it.”
FutureHeights has $7,500 budgeted for the mini-grants. Groups must consist of at least three people in the same neighborhood, and they will be required to match 20 percent of the grant in either money or volunteer hours.
 The organization plans to offer the program again in the spring, depending on the interest. “We have no idea what kind of response we’ll get,” Bremer Fisher says. The application deadline is September 15. An informational meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, July 29 at 7pm at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Lee Road Library.

In the 216 shop celebrates grand opening in Coventry Village

 Last summer, Jenny Bendis Goe, artist and owner of Jewelry by Jenny, was touring Coventry with Angie Hetrick, director of the Coventry Village Special Improvement District. Goe, who has lived in the area for her entire life, was heartbroken by the amount of vacant shops at the top of the hill.

So, Goe made it her mission to transform the vacancies to thriving storefronts, starting with her own. She contacted landlord Lewis Zipkin in August, and after some persistence and a business plan, Zipkin agreed to lease Goe former Phoenix Coffee space.  
In January Goe opened In the 216, a store that features not only Goe’s artwork but the work of nearly 60 other local artists.
Last Thursday, May 28, Goe officially held a grand opening for In the 216 – offering more than 200 guests food, drinks and a look at some of the works for sale at the store.  “There are 58 small businesses represented here,” says Goe. “I have works from $2 to $3,000.”
Goe decided to postpone the grand opening until she had her bearings and the weather improved. “It was a little nerve wracking when we first opened up, but all of the Coventry veterans are right, it’s gotten increasingly better,” she says. “I feel like Coventry is just the perfect place for this. Business has doubled, if not tripled since we first opened.”
Bodega Coventry next door served food at the grand opening, and encouraged guests to come have a drink on the patio, while burlesque star Bella Sin welcomed people on the street. The event was a success, with both familiar faces and strangers in attendance. “It was fantastic, it was wonderful,” Goe says.
In addition to her husband, Steve, Goe has two of the artists helping her out in the store, and just had two high school seniors interested in pursuing art perform their senior projects at In the 216.
Now Goe is moving ahead with the next part of her vision for the empty space on Coventry. “I’d really like to see exhibits in the [former] Strickland’s Custard space,” she says. “Not just for artists. I hope anything we do will encourage businesses to open in the empty spaces.”  Goe has a few artists in mind who would like to exhibit in the space and is talking to Zipkin about her plans to implement exhibits or studios in the area.
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