Downtown residents and workers can't help but notice the massive new mural of a black dog, painted on the wall of the City Club Building. The mural points the way in a none-too-subtle manner to the soon-to-open Black Dog Kitchen. With an alley entrance, the mural was a wise investment.
Slated to open in early August, Black Dog takes the spot of Machu Picchu, a Peruvian restaurant that never made much of a splash. It didn't help that the eatery was tucked away on East 8th Street, more alley than roadway.
That fact doesn't seem to bother chef and owner Nicholas Pejeau, whose restaurant will be the first one in the space since 2007.
"We did a lot of looking around, we explored a lot of neighborhoods," explains Cleveland native Pejeau. "We came across this space and liked it. With everything going on in Cleveland, being centrally located is great."
Pejeau calls his food New-American fusion. "Being foodies, we took regional favorites such as a New England-style lobster roll and Buffalo beef on weck and put a little Cleveland twist on it all."
Other menu items include pork belly tostones, tuna tacos, fried walleye sandwich, and a Cleveland-style Po' Boy. Prices fall mostly in the $8 to $11 range.
"We're trying to be a little different from what's already downtown," adds the chef. "We want to be between the traditional sports bars and higher priced places, so you're not spending an arm and leg to go out to eat."
Inside, walls were knocked down to open up the rambling interior. The new design leans toward clean industrial, with smooth concrete floors and a bar built from upcycled pallets. There is seating for 150, plus more in a private space.
You'll find them at 850 Euclid Ave.
Pizza in Tremont: If Michael Griffin has his way, he'll soon trade in his day job at Key Bank for that of chef-owner of a new Tremont eatery. His guide for that transition is Jeff Fisher, a veteran chef and consultant.
When it opens in late summer, Crust will serve fresh-baked pizzas, gourmet sandwiches and subs, and other made-from-scratch fare. Dough and sandwich buns will all be baked in-house, says Fisher. The location on Kenilworth — across the street from Visible Voice Books — is currently vacant.
"The owner said, 'Teach me everything.' He loves to learn," explains Fisher, who will help get the restaurant off to a strong start.
Fisher said that diners could look forward to both thin Roman-style pizzas, plus American-style pies with a thicker crust. Inventive toppings, both on the pizza and sandwiches, will give the shop a unique spin.
Closing Time at Viaduct Lounge: In the same week that that Alan Glazen, Randy Kelly, and Linda Syrek take possession of Ontario Street Café, they will conclude normal restaurant service at Viaduct Lounge.
This Saturday, July 28th will be the last night of regular dinner service at the lounge, explains Kelly. From then on, the spot will be open only for private events. There will be no changes at ABC Tavern and XYX Tavern, the team's other properties.
"This isn't a bad thing," Kelly adds. "The everyday restaurant business just isn't there, but we have great party bookings that carry the place."
Kelly cites poor visibility, limited parking, and zero foot traffic as insurmountable obstacles to running a successful eatery at that location.
Meanwhile, July 23 was the team's first official day as owner at the Ontario Street Café.
"Talk about turnkey," says Kelly, adding that almost nothing — décor, menu, prices, staff — will be changing at the old-school bar across from the casino.
"This is the last workingman's bar in downtown Cleveland," he says. "It's a step back in time: inexpensive, great value, over-the-top service."
You'll find the café at 2053 Ontario St.; reach them at 216-861-6446.
Viaduct Lounge is at 2100 Superior Viaduct; contact them at 216-556-8200.