The Big Man is back! Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo, the 89-year-old career Mafioso who left town over a decade ago after ratting out his mob buddies, has returned to his roots. Lonardo was underboss of the Cleveland mob during its bloody turf wars of the '70s and early '80s, for which he was sentenced to life plus 103 years in the federal pen. But that was reduced to five years probation in 1987, when he became a government witness the highest-ranking mob boss ever to flip until Sammy "The Bull" Gravano helped put away John Gotti. (Interestingly, The Bull, after some plastic surgery and a name change, recently left the witness protection program, too.) Lonardo's testimony put the nails in the coffin of the Cleveland mob and helped the Feds break the national syndicate as well. Why is Lonardo back in Cleveland? "He figures nobody will mess with him," says a law enforcement source. "He's so old, why bother killing him?"
Add to the list of culinary casualties John Harvard's Brew House, which closed on July 23 after an undistinguished run on the East Bank of the Flats. The building is owned by local mogul Bart Wolstein, who is reportedly resurrecting the brewpub as the House of Brews next month. Manager Derrick Bryan and Chef Frank Zingale are expected to stay on. Meanwhile, chef and co-owner Donna Chriszt has officially departed Jeso on Clifton Boulevard, transplanting her innovative blend of Asian and American cuisine to J Café in Woodmere. Partner Rick Marthaller promises to reopen Jeso by the end of the month, with a new staff. The old staff, according to one source, scattered as soon as Chriszt left, "like rats abandoning a sinking ship."
The only thing sweeter than the Browns' opening victory this week is the sour taste of pro football in Maryland, where Modell & Co. are running their same old shtick. Despite being handed a taxpayer-financed, 68,000-seat stadium and some $60 million in annual television revenues, the Ravens are an estimated $250 million in debt. "This is not a big deal. We're in fine shape," Art Modell assured The Washington Post earlier this summer, when he announced a search for a minority investor. In picking Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown to conduct the search, Modell stiffed Legg Mason executive John Moag, who as former head of the Maryland Stadium Authority helped engineer Modell's slink to Baltimore. Also feeling slighted are the merchants in Westminster (the Maryland equivalent of Berea), where Ravens tributes have been canceled, because the players never mingle with the locals. According to The Baltimore Sun, enfant terrible David Modell deigned to stop for a trim in a barber shop on Main Street, declining the advertised $2 discount for Ravens staff and paying the full $9 freight. Now if he'd only take that cigar out of his mouth.
Surest sign that the Warehouse District has arrived: Starbucks is negotiating for the space at 1374 West Sixth, the old Copy King shop between Johnny's and Piccolo Mondo. That would make a total of three in downtown Cleveland, the last place in America without a coffee shop on every corner. "Starbucks is underestimating the loyalty residents have for mom-and-pop shops like Ooh La La," contends myopic Councilman Joe Cimperman, but Ooh La La owner Joyce Fyfe is more realistic. "Starbucks won't open where they can't do well," she says. A double tall with competition, please.
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