Positive Vibrations: Carlos Jones, Chimi, Grog Shop team up for outdoor picnic jam

The lights remain off for now at the Grog Shop and B Side Liquor Lounge on Coventry in Cleveland Heights. Just like every other bar owner in Ohio, Kathy Blackman was forced to shutter her establishments in March when coronavirus hit and Governor Mike DeWine ordered them closed.



While Blackman isn’t quite ready to reopen her two bars, she can’t wait to start rocking again. So, she’s bringing the live music bar scene outside on Saturday, June 27.


“It’s more fun to be outside,” she says.

Blackman teamed up with Doug Katz and his newly opened Chimi ghost kitchen, and Cleveland’s favorite roots reggae artists, Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band, to create Grog to Go—a perfect, yet socially distant combination of outdoor music, food, and drink in the Chimi and Rising Star Coffee Roasters parking lot at 1975 Lee Road.


Next weekend the band will set up at the south end of the Chimi parking lot, while patrons can buy a parking space that accommodates up to six people—no cars allowed—for a picnic dinner and concert.


When word got out of the first Grog to Go concert, tickets for the original 7 p.m. show sold out quickly. So, Blackman has added a second show at 4 p.m., which she predicts will also sell out fast. There are only 25 spaces available for purchase in the entire lot.


Attendees can park their cars for free across the street at PAWSCLE, 1970 Lee Road, and then cross over to the lot. Assigned parking spaces will be in a “checkerboard,” says Blackman, so every other space is empty—providing plenty of social distancing.


“We’re using the parking spots for a visible barrier,” she explains. “So, every spot is nine feet apart. The idea is [to make it] so nobody’s infringing on other people.”


Katz will be selling South American fare from Chimi, or revelers can bring their own food.


“People can pre-order food and it will be delivered to your sport, or people can bring their own picnics if they want,” says Blackman. “It kind of makes it fun for everyone, and Carlos Jones is the perfect band for this.”


Blackman likens the event to the popular summertime Wade Oval Wednesdays in University Circle (the concert series has been cancelled this year because of coronavirus).


Reggae musician Ras Khalifa will open the evening with a short set at both shows.


Blackman says she hopes Grog to Go can become a regular event this summer. “My goal is to be successful in this space,” she says. “And everyone’s happy—the city, the band, the people. And do more Grog to Go.”


While the $160 ticket price is for one parking space and up to six people, Blackman says ticket holders can have fewer than six people as well. Tickets for the 4 p.m. show can be purchased here.

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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