Leave the Hives T-shirt in the closet: When you visit 806, Tremont's new wine and martini bar, elegance and style will be the order of the day. Just nine months ago, this now-ravishing Victorian beauty was a dingy former cobbler's shop; when it opens on Friday, guests will find a space filled with extraordinary arts and crafts, from hand-cast ornamental plaster ceilings to bronzes by Cleveland sculptor Giancarlo Calicchia, as well as an impressive international wine list, flights of "teeny" martinis, and cigars. (A cheese, tapas, and dessert menu is set to debut in April.)
Credit for the stunning metamorphosis goes to Clevelanders Tom Leneghan (co-owner of the nearby Tree House bar), Tony Prusak (hospitality professional and 806's managing general partner), and Bill Schmitz, who make up BIMG Hospitality Corp., a little company with big plans for launching new dining concepts throughout the region.
Prusak says the typical 806 visitor is more likely to be headed to or from dinner at nearby Lola or Mojo than seeking a spot for a post-softball-game blowout. Still, rather than stodgy or stuffy, the atmosphere promises to be mellow and relaxed. Comfy seating on sofas and upholstered chairs, an ornate wood-burning fireplace, and a soundtrack of smooth jazz and R&B will set the mood; a strict dress code will emphasize the point; and well-trained staffers will strike just the right balance between formality and warmth. "Like the Ritz, our motto is 'Ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen,'" Prusak says.
GM Barbara McKay, formerly with the Watermark, is developing a pleasantly varied wine list of more than 100 bottles, complete with sparklers, dessert wines, and ports. By-the-glass selections will be fairly limited, McKay vows, in order to maintain quality. "We won't use nitrogen to preserve opened bottles," she adds, "but just plan to move through them quickly, to make sure all the wine is at its best." (This would be a major improvement over many area wine bars, where we've spotted scores of opened bottles slowly morphing into salad dressing.)
For now, the facilities include a smoking-permitted barroom, a smoke-free fireplace room, and a small private space for intimate gatherings. Construction is continuing on a sandstone-lined cellar, and once fair weather returns, a landscaped cobblestone patio seems likely to become a major Tremont draw. 806 (806 Literary Road, 216-696-4806) is open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, beginning February 21.