The odd, ugly and sad drama surrounding Dragonfly has ended in the most favorable way possible. The Ohio City space, originally opened by Jeff Allison in 2010 and later assumed by Marlin Kaplan, should be successfully occupied by its next tenant for years to come.
Chef Mike Nowak, along with his wife Karrie, will open Black Pig (1865 W. 25th St.) by early summer. The chef, who since 2007 has been at Bar Cento and later Market Garden Brewery, has been looking for a space of his own for a couple years, he says. That search has taken him to Tremont, Duck Island, Detroit Shoreway, and Lakewood. But ultimately, he landed right down the block.
"We knew we wanted to be in Ohio City," Nowak explains. "But the spaces are few and far between. And when they do come on the market, there is always something wrong with them – some deal-breaker. When we heard this space became available, we jumped on it."
The name "Black Pig" is a generic term for a number of heirloom varietals of pig. Nowak sources his high-quality pork from a local farmer and will continue to do so. The chef describes the concept as French-inspired American, building upon the same farm-to-table approach that has made Bar Cento one of Cleveland's most enjoyable restaurants.
While there will be similarities in approach, Nowak stresses that this will not be Bar Cento 2.0.
"This will be very different," he promises. For an idea of what diners can expect, the chef says, "Take the four or five entrees on the Bar Cento menu and make an entire menu out of them."
Following the formula of other successful restaurants in the neighborhood, Black Pig will be semi-fine dining in a casual atmosphere. There will be no major changes to the layout – the bar will remain on the right side, the dining room and open kitchen the left – but there will be cosmetic changes.
"When you walk in the door, I want it to look and feel like a different restaurant," Nowak says.
An elevated chef's table will be perched directly in front of the open kitchen. Brick, wood and mirrors will give the space a rustic, simple, and attractive feel. Out back, an elevated back patio is being built that sits 20 feet in the air.
Nowak will stay on with Bar Cento and Market Garden Brewery through the transition, he says. Adam Lambert will be taking over as Bar Cento's executive chef, while Andrew Bower will fill that role across the street at the brewery.
"The growth we've seen in this neighborhood over the past five years has been insane," he says. "This is one of if not the major dining and nightlife destinations in town."
Black Pig is taking over only the Dragonfly space, not the Garage Bar space next door.
For a preview of what's to come, join Nowak in the Ohio City Room at the Brewery on May 16th for a Black Pig Pop-Up Restaurant. Reservations are required.