all aboard the west side shuffle for a safe way to bar and restaurant hop

Chris Tarr has a vision of uniting Cleveland’s west side neighborhoods into one big, fun playground of great restaurants and tasty taphouses. The establishments already exist, but getting around safely, affordably and easily is another challenge.
After being stranded at Brew 133 in Lakewood during a snow storm last year, Tarr came up with the idea for the West Side Shuffle -- a school bus painted black with a big white sign advertising the phone number to call to get on board -- that takes passengers from Lakewood to Ohio City and everywhere in between. The bus runs from 9 p.m. to 2:45 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
“I had this idea to unify all of these neighborhoods,” Tarr explains. “You should be able to go to any of the bars and restaurants in the neighborhood. People who live here love it here, and I wanted them to be more connected to the area.”
Tarr has been running the West Side Shuffle for the past two weekends, and by Saturday night he'd turned a profit. “Saturday was fantastic,” he says. “We filled the bus two times. Some people called our number for a pickup; some people flagged us down on our route. People were very receptive, and everyone was nice and courteous.”
While Tarr rides the bus, collects the fares and mingles with the passengers, he employs a head driver, insured with a commercial driver’s license, and has two back-up drivers.
After two weekends, Tarr has already made some changes, based on riders’ requests. He is in the process of creating route maps, flyers and easier access to the Shuffle’s phone number – (216) 673-4222. He’s been working with some of the bars to create coasters that advertise the Shuffle service. Tarr also now allows riders to play their own music from their phones on the bus’ sound system.
While the normal fare is $4 cash or $6 with a credit card, Tarr has instituted a discount deal for certain bars. If riders are already on W. 25th, they can ride the West Side Shuffle to Porco Lounge and Tikki Room, Platform Beer Co. or Jukebox for just $2.
As business grows, Tarr plans to expand service to West Park, W. 6th Street and E. 4th Street.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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