Brew-N-Bistro on North Park is revamped

Mark Reich, owner of Brew-N-Bistro on North Park, now offers an expanded menu in a newly renovated setting. "We’re changing the business to bring in more customers," he explains, "And to keep them coming back."

In 1994, Reich opened an Arabica coffeehouse in the same location, in the Fairmount Circle Shopping Center. Over the years, as he expanded beyond standard coffeehouse fare, Reich changed the name. Now, the "bistro" designation reflects additions, such as wine and beer, and new sandwich offerings.

Reich estimates that they now offer about 60–70 menu items, including a "create-your-own-salad" option, the popular Mish Mosh sandwich, vegetarian and southwestern chicken chilis, and breakfast B’egg’Ls (egg sandwiches), which are available all day.

"We work with the best of the local suppliers, and then it’s up to us to make it the best," Reich states. "We’re trying to keep as much as possible within the local community. Caruso Coffee provides Brew-N-Bistro with its own custom blend, North Park Dark, roasted twice a week. "It’s the same great local coffee we’ve offered since we opened and another thing that keeps customers coming back," says Reich.

Reich has always lived on the east side of Cleveland, and grew up in the food business, in a family that once operated all the city and state park concession stands.

"I fell in love with the atmosphere of the original, independent coffeehouses. I want to keep this a place where people feel comfortable. They can come here to get a meal, or just to relax," says Reich. "This is still a coffeehouse at heart, but the coffee culture has changed. It’s become less gourmet, more fast and quick. We’re always fighting the national chains, trying to come up with the right combination of being a coffee place, with a great menu. Because people order at the counter, they expect the food to come out fast, and about half our business is carryout. For people who eat in, we hope they feel welcome to linger."

Additions to the menu are just a part of the changes at Brew-N-Bistro, where Reich has replaced all of the lighting, painted, and added new photos of local scenes. Offerings will soon include a full-service deli, with meats and cheeses available by the pound, as well as a separate catering menu. With the approach of summer, Reich plans to open the patio, which seats 30. Open Mic Night will return, with local musicians playing acoustic sets, and perhaps some poets as well.

Staff consists largely of students from John Carroll University, and the school accounts for 15–20 percent of Reich’s business. The rest, Reich says, comes from the greater Heights neighborhood. On a recent afternoon, well past lunchtime, the bistro was still a third full, with customers enjoying a late lunch or afternoon snack. The diverse crowd included a man with a laptop making use of Brew-N-Bistro’s free Wi-Fi, and a grandmother with two grandchildren, who stopped in after school.

Reich says the changes have been well received so far. "I bus the tables myself whenever possible," he says, "That way I can see how people like things. And every day, since we remodeled, people tell me how nice it is. Since we first opened, this has always been a kind of home away from home. We want to be everything to everyone, but do it with quality and efficiency."

Brew-N-Bistro on North Park, 20630 North Park Blvd., 216-371-5300, Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–7 p.m.

Kim Sergio Inglis, a former marketing professional, recently relocated to Cleveland Heights from Brooklyn, NY.

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 10:30 AM, 03.23.2010