New sandwich shop opens in Heights Rockefeller Building

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Barlē Soup & Sandwich is a new restaurant in the northern end of Cleveland Heights. Pronounced barley, the new spot takes its name from owner Jim Barle, and offers homemade soups, sandwiches made with artisan breads, vegan dishes and more. After months of painstaking restoration and planning, Barlē Soup & Sandwich officially opened on April 1.  

Opening day—albeit busy—went as planned. Erin Petre, general manager, said, “We had between 100 and 120 customers come in.” In a play on the name Barlē, the restaurant will feature a variation on barley soup each day, as well as a daily vegan soup.

Coffee and tea at Barlē Soup & Sandwich are complimentary with the purchase of a meal. While complimentary, a dollar donation is suggested, to benefit a nonprofit organization. The current beneficiary is Facing History and Ourselves—a group that encourages education as the key to combating bigotry and nurturing democracy.

Barle has spent the last few months working diligently to renovate the space which Barlē Soup & Sandwich now occupies, on the Lee Boulevard side of the Rockefeller Building. It is adorned with antique furniture, a working grandfather clock, church pews, and items taken from local schools of long ago. It even has a Thomas the Tank Engine table for children. The restored old-world feel of the room is balanced by a contemporary look, with red and tin-ceiling colored paint on the walls, and new tables and chairs.

Barle provided a tour of the new restaurant, and pointed proudly to many of the restoration’s details. “All of the hardware on the doors is original. The maple hardwood flooring is original, too. You can see where the staples were; where we had to remove those and the glue that had covered it for so long.”

Barlē Soup & Sandwich will feature an Artist of the Month, whose work will be displayed throughout the restaurant, and available for purchase. The first featured artist was Joann Broadbooks, a retired teacher from Heights High. “She used to be my teacher,” Barle said with excitement. He hopes to eventually have a jazz band play monthly for each new artist.

The restaurant is currently open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but Barle and Petre hope to be busy enough to warrant extending the hours. “We’re going to see how we do with one shift, and then we’ll look at adding on another,” said Petre.

Barle said of the location, “It was important to me to open here because there aren’t a whole lot of options [near Mayfield and Lee roads]. There is the pizza place across the street, but you can only eat so much pizza for lunch.”

Near the restaurant’s entrance, Barle stopped to point to an antique coat rack, stocked full of umbrellas of various colors and sizes. “People can take them as they need them,” said Barle. “We just hope they come back.”

Chris Hanson

Chris Hanson is a senior in the Urban Studies program at Cleveland State University and an intern at FutureHeights.

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Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 10:39 AM, 04.03.2012