FH names Stone Oven's Rehn and Emerman 'persons of the year'

John Emerman and Tatyana Rehn. [credit: Jack & Jim]

Nearly 30 ago, Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman founded The Stone Oven Bakery Café in Cleveland Heights. It became a beloved Lee Road institution. Now, the co-founders have passed the torch.

FutureHeights will honor Rehn and Emerman as FutureHeights’ Persons of the Year at its annual benefit celebration on July 13, 5–9:30 p.m., at the Dolan Center for Science and Technology at John Carroll University. 

A cafe is a simple thing, yet over the years Stone Oven has become a home for many, woven into the fabric of our unique Heights community. That is both rare and beautiful, and worthy of celebration. 

I’m thrilled that FutureHeights is honoring John and Tatyana—two people who mean a lot to me and, in many ways, feel like my Cleveland Heights family. You could say I grew up working at Stone Oven; I started there as a Heights High sophomore at just 14 years old, working until my senior year, when I was 17. If the Lee Road cafe gives off a familial vibe to customers, I can say it is also reflective of how it felt to work there. 

Throughout college and post-college, friends would convene at Stone Oven to catch up during trips home. The regulars I had waited on and gotten to know as a teenager were always still there. The staff behind the counter changed, but the cafe always maintained the same welcoming, familial atmosphere Stone Oven was known for. 

The Stone Oven as we know it was born out of Tatyana's desire to create and sell top-quality, European-style bread. Both Tatyana and John are mechanical engineers by trade. Tatyana was first to pursue bread baking as a business, operating first from home, then out of a rented kitchen on Taylor Road. When they opened its first storefront in 1995, Stone Oven served a small menu of gourmet sandwiches, salads, pastries and coffee that has largely remained unchanged over the years. Business was good, and John left his engineering job to join the staff full-time.

In 2005, they moved Stone Oven to its current, larger location on Lee, which features large murals and custom menu boards created by local artists.

“As a result of its location and the unique community of the area, the Lee Road store has always been the heart and soul of the business,” Tatyana reflected. “Its success had everything to do with feeling like this place is our home, Stone Oven is our home. It’s Cleveland Heights and it’s John. John gave it personality, by existing there, by being the person. All these parts came together to make it a success.”

“We have very warm relationships with our staff,” said John. “When you start a business and you grow it and it’s your baby, the people who work for you are sort of your extended family.”

That sentiment was on full display during the Stone Oven Extravaganza of 2009—a choreographed flash-mob style dance routine performed by John and fellow employees during a bustling Saturday lunch rush, much to the surprise of patrons. (It’s still available for viewing on YouTube.) Two marriages have resulted between former employees, one of which involved a specially arranged engagement proposal in the store after business hours. And when it came time for John and Tatyana to move on to new ventures, they shared the news at a big party for staff where they welcomed the new owners (Nick Kalafatis and Chris Compton, another Cleveland Heights couple) into the family, if you will. 

Please join FutureHeights in honoring FutureHeights’ Persons of the Year, John and Tatyana, for their contribution to our community, and to thank them and wish them well. 

To learn more about FutureHeights’ annual benefit, including sponsorship information, and buy tickets, visit www.futureheights.org/events/2024-annual-benefit/.

Julie Hammond Gierke

Julie Hammond Gierke is volunteer chair of the FutureHeights Annual Benefit Committee, a CH resident, and board president of Heights Tree People (HeightsTreePeople.com), a nonprofit working to rebuild the tree canopy and foster community tree culture.

Read More on FutureHeights News
Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 10:08 AM, 04.19.2024