For just over two years, Fat Casual in Macedonia was the place to go for genuine and delicious slow-smoked barbecue. But lengthy road and bridge construction cut the business off from its customer base, eventually to the point of closure last month.
"The road was closed for 517 days," explains co-owner Scott Slagle. "We lost a third of our sales."
By mid February, Slagle and partner Walter Hyde should be back in business, this time in Solon. Formerly the Rush Hour Grille on Aurora Road, the Tavern of Solon will feature all the beloved barbecue dishes from Fat Casual and then some. The 5,000-square-foot space will seat 150 and offer authentic smoked briskets, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, as well as new classics like smoked corned beef and smoked prime rib. A liquor license means beer, wine and cocktails will join the mix.
"I'm from Solon, born and raised," adds Slagle. "There are so many chains now in the area; we're trying to bring back that old-school independent feel of a local restaurant."
Over in Tremont, on W. 14th, chef Danny Cassano is transforming the old Rodeo Bar into Nana's Southside BBQ. Along with partner Brian Devine, the pair will turn out authentic, slow-smoked barbecue and wood-grilled foods.
"I want to do barbecue in Tremont because although there are some barbecue spots in Cleveland, they are almost nonexistent on the West Side," explains Cassano. "Also, I want to do barbecue because I feel there is really no place in the Cleveland area where you can get real southern barbecue, the kind of place with a smokehouse and a wood burning grill. Real barbecue is a labor of love — it takes a good 24 hours to make."
Cassano hopes to construct a genuine smokehouse on the property.
Cassano, a Johnson and Wales graduate, claimed the top kitchen spot at Sushi Rock by the young age of 21. He also worked as sous chef at Blue Point Grill. Most recently, he was cooking at Barrio in Tremont.
"My partner and I want a comfortable spot with that 'Tremont feel' to it," says Cassano. "The name is a tribute to my grandmother, who really taught me how to cook: slow and with love."
Look for Nana's to come online mid to late March.