Remember the skate park built for the Dew Games held at North Coast Harbor in 2008? Well, it's been dismantled, but the concrete slab remains, surrounded by a metal-flame fence. Very soon the space will be home to the city's first shipping container-based restaurant, Blazing Bistro, which is scheduled to open in late July, adding to the amenities on downtown's lakefront.
"We've recognized for a while that one of the missing amenities on the lakefront is a gathering place for people while they're at the Rock Hall etc.," says Michael Deemer, Vice President of Business Development and Legal Services at Downtown Cleveland Alliance. "We worked with the city and with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry to build off the success of Cleveland's food truck renaissance."
Blazing Bistro will take up residence in a recycled shipping container repurposed by Cleveland Custom Trucks. Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM), which operates the successful Manna food truck and employs formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals, was awarded the contract after responding to an RFP from DCA.
The days and hours of operation are not set in stone, but likely will be lunch Wednesday through Sunday with some evening hours added as well. The shipping container idea grew out of the Small Box Initiative, a program of the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation to develop retail in parking lots on West 9th Street.
As the new lakefront development takes off, Blazing Bistro can be picked up and moved to other locations, either in the harbor or other parts of downtown.
Blazing Bistro also will be open during various events taking place at North Coast Harbor, including the new Anchors and Ales event, held August 22-23 and September 13-14 in conjunction with Cleveland Browns home games.
Deemer says the seasonal restaurant is a win-win-win for the city, residents and visitors. "It's not enough to have a park on the lakefront; we have to actively drive people there with events and amenities," he says. "We've seen food truck owners open up brick and mortar stores with great success. This is a new wrinkle."