Last week, Cleveland Heights resident Keith Logan opened SweetieFry, a quaint little shop that serves "hand-crafted ice cream and impossibly good fries."
Taking over the corner spot at Silsby and Lee, SweetieFry boasts a farmhouse-chic vibe, complete with weathered wood floors, pickled wood walls, and burnished zinc tabletops. Orders are placed at the front counter, prepared in the open kitchen, and picked up at a small window in the rear of the space. There is seating for about 15.
While it's still early in the going, neighbors seem thrilled to have a family-friendly ice cream parlor on Lee — something many say has been missing from the mix. House-made ice creams — with flavors that include Espresso Coffee, Authentic Vanilla Bean, Deep Chocolate, and Peanut Butter & Jelly — are available in a cup, cone, or waffle cone. SweetieFry also serves hot fudge and brownie sundaes and milkshakes.
French fries are more than an afterthought here. Choices include freshly fried waffle-cut, shoestring, Belgian, or sweet potato varieties. We enjoyed a large platter of delicious chili-cheese fries ($8.75), with sturdy, crisp waffle-cut fries making an ideal base.
You'll find them at 2307 Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights.
At long last, Assad's: After numerous suggestions to visit Assad's Bakery on the West Side, I finally made it. And I'm sorry it took so long. This 22-year-old Mediterranean foods store is widely known as one of the best sources for fresh-baked pita and imported products like olive oil, cheese, spices, and pastries. But it's the small kitchen up front that attracted me to the shop. Two vertical rotisseries spin with housemade beef or chicken shawarma ($4.50), a nearby grill cooks highly spiced kafta skewers to order ($4.50), and the deep fryer turns out surprisingly light and airy falafel ($3.50). Each gets bundled up tight in a soft pita with shaved red onion, crunchy pickles, fresh parsley, and garlic sauce. All are an incredible, delicious value. Other items include spicy lamb sausage, lamb tongue, and full-sized entrées built around all of the above.
Assad's is at 12719 Lorain Ave. For more information, call 216-251-5777 or go to assadsbakery.com.
Wine Time: While Cleveland Heights residents were crushed to see Seitz-Agin Hardware close after more than 50 years, many will be thrilled to learn that a local resident is giving the space new life.
Adam Fleischer left his corporate job after 20 years to open The Wine Spot, a retail wine and craft beer store. He will run the shop — which is expected to opening in November — with his wife.
"My wife and I are wine and craft beer lovers," Fleischer says. "We think there's a need in the area for a good, customer-service-focused wine and beer store. We want it to be convenient for people to come, hang out, taste wine, and hopefully find something they like."
They're at 2271 Lee Rd.; visit thewinespotonline.com for more information.
Spice Guy: Ben Bebenroth, the chef and owner of Spice of Life Catering, has taken over the Detroit-Shoreway property that in recent years — and months — has housed Snickers, La Boca, Roseangel, and most recently Barrio, which hosted its last salsa night last weekend.
"It's been a lot of things except for successful," Bebenroth says of the corner property.
In addition to moving Spice of Life Catering into the space, Bebenroth will open Spice Kitchen and Bar sometime before the end of the year. Joining him in the operation are chefs Brandon Walukas and Andy Strizak.
"We're still so busy with the catering business," Bebenroth notes, adding that the catering ops remain his top priority.
Still, when the time comes, Walukas and Strizak bring with them plenty of pertinent experience. Walukas, a Culinary Institute of America grad, previously worked as chef de cuisine at the former One Walnut. Strizak, a Parker Bosley protégé who ran the Parker's kitchen in its final years, recently spent three years as chef de cuisine at Lolita.
As for the concept, Bebenroth says that he and his team are still tinkering. But diners can expect a great bar atmosphere with small plates, pizzas, and vegetarian-friendly items. The chef's relationships with small local farmers and producers that have served him so well in his catering biz will be tapped for the restaurant as well.
"Same model," he says.
Spice of Life has earned a reputation for being one of the area's highest quality special-events businesses. Spice, says Bebenroth, will allow him to broaden the brand.
"We're known as an upscale catering company. This is an opportunity to be more down to earth."
Sayonara: After a relatively quiet three-year run, Ariyoshi, a sushi spot at 2206 Lee Rd., has closed. Taking its place will be the Heights Grill, a sports bar and pub.
Getting It Right: Last week we told you about Mike Nadolski, the new executive chef at Brothers Lounge. Among our props for the guy, we mistakenly claimed he was former executive pastry chef at Picasso's in Las Vegas.
This week, at Nadolski's request, we set the record straight: His position at Picasso was as an assistant. His stint as executive pastry chef came at the Pavilion in Antigua.
"I don't want to be given credit for something that isn't true," says the conscientious culinarian.