The term “hidden gem” gets tossed around so often these days that it is essentially meaningless. Rare is the restaurant that truly is both hidden and a gem. When it opened 16 years ago, the Grovewood Tavern was both of those things. Tucked deep in the residential neighborhood in Collinwood, the restaurant was exasperatingly difficult to find for diners who rarely had a reason to venture farther east than Cleveland Heights.
But travel they did, lured by chef-driven bistro fare in the unlikeliest of environs. Politely described as “gritty,” the well-worn tavern opened with linoleum floors, ‘70s-era wood paneling, cigarette smoke-stained ceilings, and an ancient bowling machine that took up considerable space in the dining room. Over the years, chefs like Mark A. Wilson, Tim Ogan, Brandon Kercher and John Bausone have enticed diners to make the drive for Grovewood classics like crab cakes, pot stickers, cold Japanese noodles in a sesame sauce, yakitori duck breast and chicken paprikash. The massive wine list was deep and broad, studded with affordable gems found nowhere else.
And the space perked up, too. The bowling machine was pulled out to make room for larger and larger crowds. Linen found its way onto tabletops.
All that ends today as owners Beth Davis-Noragon and Tadas Gelazis have announced the sudden and unexpected closure of the restaurant. Calls to management have been unreturned, but this message was posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“A little over 16 years ago, with no fanfare or publicity, we opened a wine bar and tavern in a rustic-urban setting just north of what would much later be known later as the Waterloo Arts District. Our concept at the time was unique to Cleveland: to provide sophisticated food and wine service in a local, tavern setting. From our modest beginnings, we never lost sight of our focus: to bring great food, beverages, and above all, service, in a comfortable environment to people from all walks of life. We’ve helped you celebrate life’s milestones: anniversaries, weddings, engagements, and birthdays. We’ve supported causes large and small, and we thank you all for supporting us.
But, as the Grovewood grew, so, too, did the Cleveland food scene. Today, our original “gastropub” approach is ubiquitous. We are proud to have been on the forefront of so many at the time “cutting-edge” ideas that now are common enough to be part of the everyday vernacular of people who care about food. Local. Sustainable. Fresh. Hand-made. Craft. Pairing Dinners. Regrettably, as quietly as we entered Cleveland’s restaurant scene, we must now depart. It is with sadness that we announce our closing, effective immediately.”
Much has changed for the better in the local food scene over the past 16 years. But given the increase in great spots like Grovewood,
I know we speak for the entire Cleveland dining community when we say, “Thanks for the years of service, Grovewood. We will miss you.”