"If there's one thing we chefs know how to do, it's throw a party," says Steve Schimoler, chef-owner of Crop Bistro. As the official bandleader for Cleveland Food Rocks, a nonprofit that seeks to promote the city through its food and music, Schimoler is gearing up for a mouth-watering new food bash. The inaugural Rock 'n' Roll BBQ Throwdown will go down from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, July 26, in a tent in the Beachland Ballroom parking lot (15711 Waterloo Rd.). Chefs from 25 of the area's most popular restaurants will be serving up tasty vittles with a barbecue theme. "Everybody's doing their own spin on barbecue," explains Schimoler. So rather than 10 gallons of pulled pork, attendees can nibble their way through Korean ribs, lamb sliders, clam bakes and plenty of gourmet potato salad, slaw and pickles. In addition to serving up food, many chefs will be dishing up hot licks on the stage; a number of restaurants have assembled house bands and will be performing sets. Adult beverages will be sold inside the Beachland. "You know, we chefs do every fundraiser under the sun for good causes," says Schimoler. "This is the first one that is really designed to just help promote the restaurants." Tickets are available for $25 online (clevelandfoodrocks.com), at many participating restaurants, and the day of at the door ($30, cash or check).
During the five years since he left Touch Supper Club, Jeff Allison has been on a bit of a roll. His Garage Bar (1859 W. 25th St., 216.696.7772, thegaragebar.net) shot out of the starting gate like a top-fuel dragster, only recently slowing to a comfortable speed. Last summer, Allison shipped the concept south to Columbus, opening a second Garage Bar in the hip Arena District. Next up for the itchy-fingered entrepreneur is Dragonfly, a sleek Asian restaurant and lounge to be opened in the old City Buddha spot on West 25th Street. "I looked at the street to see what we were missing," says Allison, "and I thought we needed a clubby pan-Asian bistro." When completed, the double storefront will feature a sushi bar, lounge and dining room. The project will unfold in stages, with a sushi bar and club the first to debut. Until then, Allison will continue to push his tasty barbecue at Garage. "We have fantastic food here," he says, "but people don't tend to think of us in that way."