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Zinc on the Brink

Troubled downtown restaurant to get new owners

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For weeks there have been rumblings of a major restaurant shake-up in downtown Cleveland. It finally can be revealed what that fuss is all about.

Chris Hodgson, owner of the popular food trucks Dim and Den Sum and Hodge Podge, has paired up with Scott Kuhn, owner of Washington Place Bistro and Welshfield Inn, to open a new restaurant in the current home of Zinc Bistro.

Zinc will close its doors on December 23.

It's been a rocky road for the restaurant, a French-style bistro that opened in spring of 2010. In addition to the dining room and a large, well-appointed patio, ambitious plans originally called for an all-day retail bakery offering salads, sandwiches, and house-made pastries. That never transpired. And while multiple chef and management changes attempted to right the ship, that apparently never happened either.

Hodgson and Kuhn are still in the planning phase of their new restaurant. We'll share more details of the project as they unfold.

Zinc Bistro is located on Euclid Avenue, on the ground floor of the $65 million Residences at Six Six Eight development.

CHANGES AT REDDSTONE: Things are heating up in the kitchen at Reddstone, the Battery Park watering hole that opened in 2007. As of Thursday, December 1, co-owner and executive chef Josh Kabat is out; Kabat's longtime sous chef Jeff James is in.

While the food at this funky fun stop has always been above average, James says the new direction is definitely upscale. Among other things, that means an emphasis on monthly chef's specials and a renewed focus on local, artisanal breads and produce.

Helping James with his kitchen duties is sous chef — and girlfriend — Crystal Golias; the couple met while working at the former Cleveland Grill and went on to cook together at Luxe. In addition to serving as the chef's right-hand gal, Golias crafts all the bar's pastries and desserts from scratch.

"The gloves are off," says an excited James. "I'm gonna tear things up!"

Reddstone is at 1261 West 76th Street. Call 216-651-6969 or visit reddstonecleveland.com for more information.

MELANGE TO GET A MAKEOVER: A snafu over a liquor license is prompting major changes at four-year-old Melange, Andy Zelenkofske's Beachwood bistro. The restaurant no longer is open for dinner and most likely will close following Christmas for a major overhaul, says Zelenkofske.

A lapsed license renewal means that the restaurant can no longer sell alcohol. But Zelenkofske says that plans for the restaurant may not require a liquor license anyway.

"I actually started this process a while ago, but my search has been hastened by recent events," he says. "I am looking at a number of different formats. I was going to do something anyway as the restaurant was getting stale. In this business, you have to stay out in front of everybody."

Among the possibilities: More family-friendly options, including lighter fare, baked goods, and perhaps even a soda fountain. "I don't see anything like that in the area," he says.

Melange is still serving lunch and weekend brunches. Find them at 2101 Richmond Road in La Place. Call 216-378-9755 or visit dinemelange.com for more information.

TASTES LIKE CHICKEN: In 2002, a chef and a photographer teamed up to launch a local foods magazine in their hometown of Ojai, California. That publication, Edible Ojai, turned out to be the first of many regional publications that would fall under the Edible Communities umbrella. Today, roughly 50 separate regions in the United States and Canada are served by their own local Edible publication.

Next spring, Edible Cleveland will join the family. Locally and independently owned by husband and wife team Noelle Celeste and Jon Benedict, the full-color print magazine will be published quarterly.

Celeste, a Yale grad and Civic Commons employee, says she was first introduced to an Edible publication while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard.

"We basically used the magazine as our guide to the Vineyard while there," she explains. "On our drive home, my husband and I were taken aback to learn that there wasn't one in Cleveland. We said, 'Why don't we do that?'"

Edible Cleveland will focus on local food and the people behind it. Readers can expect in-depth narratives about the farmers, producers, chefs, and artisans who work to bring fresh, wholesome, and authentic foods to market throughout Northeast Ohio.

This will not be another news-based publication, promises Celeste.

"This will be more about celebrating what's new and wonderful, and the people behind the food," she adds. "By sharing what's going on, we will help cultivate a growing audience for local food."

Learn more at ediblecleveland.com.

LIFE'S A BEACH: There should be seats still available for the Saturday, December 10, Earth to Table Dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. The 6:30 p.m. food fest features Top Chef contestant Kenny Gilbert (top toque at Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville, Florida) cooking up a menu of island-flavored faves, including grilled baby octopus with cauliflower ginger purée, chipotle-braised beef tongue with hominy and garlic, and warm ginger spice cake with sake-toffee sauce, pecan granola, and raisin ice cream.

Tickets for the multi-dish feast are $75 at 419-499-7500; beverages, tax, and a 20-percent tip are extra. Part of Farmer Lee Jones' Chef's Garden juggernaut, the Culinary Vegetable Institute is at 12304 Mudbrook Road in Milan, Ohio. Learn more at culinaryvegetableinstitute.com.

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