Seasoned entrepreneurs roll out 3 new taste sensations to please every craving at Clifton Corners

Beginning this month, three businesses specializing in coffee and dessert and everything in between are infiltrating Clifton Corners.

La Taza Rica Craft Coffee and Tea, Mashiso Asian Grille, and Remixx Ice Cream and Cereal Bar are joining establishments like Papa Nick’s Pizza and Pasta, and Tick Tock Tavern on Clifton Boulevard to offer a full variety of dining options for those visiting Cleveland’s Edgewater neighborhood.

La Taza RicaLa Taza Rica

Tony DiCorpo has a decade of experience in the fair trade coffee world and as owner of Troubadour Coffee Roasters in Fairview Park. Last week, he expanded his commitment to free trade coffee and opened the 1,050-square-foot La Taza Rica Craft Coffee and Tea at Clifton Corners, 11514 Clifton Blvd., in half of the former In The 216 space, which closed its bricks-and-mortar locations last year.

DiCorpo has developed personal relationships with the Central and South American coffee growers he works with—searching out and bringing to Cleveland the best-of-the-best in coffee beans—micro-lots of the top 3% of the world’s best coffee.

“Not only do we have professional relationships, we have personal relationships,” says DiCorpo. “I can walk over the wall and point to Jaime’s picture and his coffee, which is a specialty grade—among the top 20% of coffees in the world. We pay premium prices, but everything goes directly to the grower.”

DiCorpo, who extensively researches the coffees and growers he works with, hosted one of his partner-growers, Miguel Medina from Acatenango, Guatemala, for a meet and greet Feb. 8 during the shop’s grand opening weekend.

Just like microbrew beer and fine wines, DiCorpo's coffees have flavor profiles that allow the drinker to taste the bottom, middle and top notes of the brew, he says. Calling his beans “relationship coffee,” he says most customers don’t even need cream to mellow the brew.

DiCorpo says he can make anyone a coffee aficionado with the micro-lot coffee beans he uses. “I think anyone can grow to appreciate it, if they don’t already,” he says. “It can be met with pretentiousness, but we’re about making sure people understand the grower, the coffee.”

La Taza Rica specializes in pour-over cups, which are a little more costly to do at $4 a cup. “But it’s worth it in the end,” DiCorpo promises. “The bottom line is what’s in your cup—you know where it came from, and it’s top grade.”

In addition to the pour-over coffee, La Taza Rica also serves batch drip brews and lattes as well as a selection of pastries, cookies, biscotti, and other Latina-inspired desserts.

Inside the shop, DiCorpo chose bright paint colors—teals, yellows, and purples—to convey the vibes and colors of Latin America. “It’s a Latino-inspired coffee shop,” he says. “[Color] is one of the ways I wanted to transport people when they come in. The colors are very vibrant. You don’t really see a lot of this in the [local] coffee shops, so I created it to really focus on that theme.”

Remixx Ice Cream and Cereal BarRemixx Ice Cream and Cereal Bar

Vicki Kotris and her husband, Steve, owners of Cleveland Cookie Dough, knew they were on to something when they launched the city’s only edible cookie dough food truck in 2018.

The couple were looking for something different to complement their full-time careers (Vicki sells enterprise software; Steve is a CPA) when they started hearing about the cookie dough trend.

Almost immediately, customers embraced their flavors—such as popular chocolate chip, salted caramel, and brownie batter—and Steve started running the truck full time.

Then in December 2019, Cleveland Cookie Dough opened a holiday pop-up shop in Strongsville’s SouthPark Mall that has been so popular that their contract has been extended until the end of the month.

But the Kotrises are always looking ahead of the trends. So last year they decided to launch Remixx Ice Cream and Cereal Bar—serving ice cream mixed with just about any sweet treat you can think of (including, of course, cookie dough).

“I started looking at other dessert trends on Pinterest, then we put our own spin on it,” says Vicki. “We incorporated the cookie dough component, but we wanted to put a twist on it. Special machines [a core fitted with an aeronautical drill] mix ice cream, toppings, cereal, candies. Any one of our customers can be the DJ of their own dessert.”

They hope to collaborate with other area sweets shops to incorporate items like caramel corn and Cleveland-specific candies and chocolates into their Remixx concoctions, Vicki says.

Construction on the 1,100-square-foot Remixx store at 11512 Clifton Blvd. (in the other half of the former In The 216 space) is scheduled to begin by end of this month, with a projected opening in June, Vicki says.

The back half of Remixx will be the prep and production area for cookie dough and the food truck, while the front will serve as a grab-and-go establishment.

“Remixx is a very exciting project that has been in the inner working of my mind for many years,” Vicki says. “I’ve always wanted to have a bricks-and-mortar shop in Cleveland.”

But first they must install a commercial kitchen, counters, benches, tables, and décor that features wall art by local artists and quirky items like disco balls. “We’re really starting from the ground up,” she says.

The couple have lived in the neighborhood for the past six years and have seen the area thrive with independent retail shops recently. “We’ve seen so much change and growth over the last two years,” she says. “It’s fun to be a part of it.”

Mashiso Asian GrilleMashiso Asian Grille

Nine years after co-founders Jason and Steve Kocab opened Mashiso Asian Grille in North Olmsted—a fast casual Asian fusion take on their mother’s Korean cooking—the pair are about to open their second location at 11520 Clifton Blvd. in the former Asia Café space.

“We’ve been growing all nine years, we’re still getting new customers, and we’re still headed in the right direction,” says Jason. “We’re a fast-casual model, with warm items, wraps, salads, bowls, and flatbreads on the kids menu, although adults get [the flatbreads] too.”

Everything, from the marinades and the six cold sauces and three warm sauces to the signature yakis (hand-folded, deep fried wontons filled with ground chicken, carrots, spinach, and sweet potato noodles), is made from scratch.

Jason, 42, first started learning his mother’s Korean recipes in his 20s, then adapted them for quick preparation. “I played around and made a business out of it,” he says. “I love people enjoying our food, and we do a lot of catering.”

Right now, Kocab is concentrating on converting the 2,500-square-foot space from a sit-down restaurant to the fast-casual model he is known for. “The kitchen we’re not changing much,” he says. “But the front of house is dated. So we're updating the paint and some design features, and we have to build a service line.”

Kocab says they’re aiming to open by mid-May, but he’s predicting the opening will be closer to June.

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.