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Bites: Crop Comes to Whiskey Island

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The best part of Whiskey Island has never been the food at Sunset Grille. That will change this summer when Steve and Jackie Schimoler, owners of Crop Bistro, take over the food operations at the popular summer destination.

Kicking off at the annual Cinco de Mayo party, Cropicana will feature Crop's signature creative foods, reworked into breezy summer fare.

"We have been dying to do our version of groovy fast food," says Schimoler, who describes the menu as beach-inspired.

On weekends, the entire operation will be moved outdoors, with cooks operating from an alfresco kitchen. Grills, smokers, and a pig roaster will be employed to feed the massive crowds, which can swell to 1,000 per day.

"The problem was that small kitchen, which couldn't keep up with the crowds," says Schimoler. This will run like an outdoor fast-food outfit, with guests ordering, paying, and grabbing their food. During the week, the inside kitchen will remain in service.

Menu items might include roast pig, clam bakes, barbecue, Long Island clam rolls, and corn on a stick.

"We will be very sensitive about price points," he adds. "This is not a yacht club after all."

After five years of working out of improvised kitchens and peddling pies at area farmers' markets, Joe Schlott opened his Gray House Pies in Fairview Park in 2008. Business has been so good that now Schlott is expanding to a second retail location — complete with dine-in seating — at 26075 Detroit Rd. in Westlake. The new Gray House is expected to be open this week.

Baked fresh daily, Schlott's pies are made with free-range eggs, organic whole milk, and ripe local fruit. The company roasts its own nuts, purées its own pumpkin, and bakes its own crackers for the graham cracker crust. Quiches and savory pies are also on the menu. — Trattner

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