2020 Heights Observer Holiday Gift Guide

For the past 13 years, the Heights Observer has published its Holiday Gift Guide to inspire residents to shop locally for the December holidays.

Cleveland Heights and University Heights abound with independent businesses—boutiques, salons, restaurants and artist collaboratives—which enhance our local character and anchor our business districts. 

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many of these businesses have temporarily or permanently closed, or are operating at partial capacity.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 7:20 PM, 10.29.2020

Pick up the Heights Observer along with your Bialy's bagels

Locals know that Bialy's Bagels is the best place to get fresh bagels. Owners and twin sisters Rachel and Sarah Gross offer both walk-up and online ordering. Visit for details, and be sure to pick up a copy of the Heights Observer while you're there. The shop is located at 2267 Warrensville Center Road, in University Heights.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:56 PM, 10.29.2020

Luna Bakery Cafe features the Heights Observer along with fresh-baked fare

If you’re looking for delicious baked goods, visit Luna, a European-style bakery and cafe serving made-from-scratch pastry and other fare. Located in the Cedar Fairmount district, at 2482 Fairmount Blvd., items are made fresh daily, on the premises, using the best-quality ingredients. Chef and owner Bridget Thibeault encourages everyone to support local businesses like Luna, and to pick up a copy of the Heights Observer while there. For details on Luna's menu and hours, visit, or call 216-231-8585.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:55 PM, 10.29.2020

Heights businesses invited to submit holiday gift ideas

This year more than ever, shopping here in the Heights has the capacity to help our local business districts.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many beloved Heights merchants to close shop or pare back on their hours and services. As the holiday season approaches, the Heights Observer continues its efforts to encourage local shopping with its annual Holiday Gift Guide, to be published in November.

Cleveland Heights and University Heights retail businesses are invited and encouraged to e-mail photos and descriptions of items they would like to be considered for publication in the 2020 Heights Observer Holiday Gift Guide to Jessica Schantz ( no later than Oct. 16. Put “Holiday Gift Guide” in the subject line.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:34 AM, 09.22.2020

Fairmount School of Music becomes Musicologie

Folk musicians—like me and, for instance, fellow traditional- and roots-music artist Kevin Richards—are, by nature, somewhat more resistant to changing how we do things. That’s why we continue to play old music, rather than, say, electro-punk or funktronicanica.

Richards has been running the Fairmount School of Music, with his wife, Patricia, for 32 years—in the same location (3473 Fairmount Blvd.) and in the same way. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them—like almost everyone else—to significantly alter the way they give lessons; now they mostly conduct them online. 

And that’s not all. They have recently changed the way they run the business side, too. In September, they entered into a partnership with another small company that handles much of their business. That company, Musicologie, is run by a couple, Joe and Kay Barker, in a Columbus suburb.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:57 AM, 10.01.2020

CH nurse receives 'Helping Hann' free furnance

For a fourth consecutive year, Verne & Ellsworth Hann Inc. has chosen a winner for its “Helping Hann” free furnace giveaway. The company created the program to help a deserving member of the community who needs a new furnace.

Cleveland Heights resident Sommer Saddler is the recipient of the company’s 2020 free furnace installation, which includes all materials and labor.

A registered nurse, Saddler has worked for the Cleveland Clinic for the past 16 years. Her passion is to care for others, despite her own health issues. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2017, Saddler said, “Every day is a struggle, but I have to get myself together to care for my patients. For a long time, I hid my MS so people wouldn’t feel sorry for me. I have learned to accept my diagnosis even though it has changed my lifestyle and financial situation.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:40 AM, 09.22.2020

Pick up a Heights Observer at Mac's Backs

With some businesses closed, and others limiting in-store service, some readers are having trouble finding copies of the Heights Observer. Suzanne DeGaetano, owner of Mac's Backs - Books on Coventry, continues serving the community by hosting virtual events, and carrying both best-sellers and books by local authors. For information, visit You can also pick up a copy of the Heights Observer there.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:04 AM, 09.30.2020

Find the Heights Observer at Bill's Coffee Shop

Bill's Coffee Shop owner Cindy Schmidt has been serving breakfast and lunch for more than 32 years. Recently, she and her longtime team of John Cuva and Ronnie Black reopened for take-out orders. Think of Bill's Coffee Shop the next time you're looking for a classic diner meal, and pick up a copy of the Heights Observer while you're there. Bill's is located at 3954 Mayfield Road, in Cleveland Heights (216-381-6443).

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:03 AM, 09.30.2020

Strongsville company renovates Lee Road storage business

The building at 2037 Lee Road has undergone renovations after being purchased in November 2019 by Petrick Property Group of Strongsville. Cleveland Heights Storage, a mini-storage facility, is the company’s first commercial property.

Constructed in 1928, the building originally served as Cleveland Heights' first post office. It housed retail businesses after the postal service vacated it in the 1960s. In 1984, Tim and Joan Evans purchased it, and converted it to use for storage.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:42 AM, 07.30.2020

Nighttown announces July 1 re-opening

Brendan Ring plans to re-open Nighttown on July 1 at 3 p.m.

Five days before Gov. DeWine's March 15 order that closed all Ohio restaurants that evening, Ring, Nighttown’s owner, made the decision to shut down. He closed for the health of his employees, friends and patrons. There was no takeout. There were no deliveries. The music stopped.

As of July 2, Nighttown will be open again on Thursday, Friday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., for lunch and dinner. On Saturday and Sunday, Nighttown will open at 10 a.m., with brunch served until 3 p.m., and dinner served 3–9 p.m.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 11:54 AM, 06.30.2020

Some Heights businesses reopen as restrictions are lifted

As the state eases coronavirus restrictions, some Heights businesses are starting to re-open; others remain temporarily closed. Most businesses continue to make adjustments to their hours or practices, in an effort to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Heights has a large number of independently run, locally owned businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. 

In an effort to encourage support for businesses that are open, the city of Cleveland Heights announced that it would waive all parking fees at meters in city-owned lots and garages, until further notice.

The Heights Observer compiled the following partial list of changes that Heights businesses made to their services due to the outbreak. The list is not comprehensive.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 11:28 AM, 06.02.2020

New owner continues Atma Center's mission

On April 1, amidst the COVID-19 virus and stay-at-home orders, Cleveland Heights native Julie Schlemmer became the new owner of Atma Center, the yoga studio in the Cedar Lee district, at 2319 Lee Road.

The center opened in 1997 through the vision of former owner Swami Atmarupa (aka Beverly Singh), who wanted to establish a holistic wellness center that offered yoga, massage therapy, meditation, and a retail source for vitamins and physical wellness products.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:06 AM, 06.02.2020

Cleveland Rocks and Beads is poised to welcome back in-store customers

What if you operated a shop that was a gathering space for craft enthusiasts, then suddenly found it among those shuttered when a state order for social distancing, necessitated by a global pandemic, led to the temporary closing of all "non-essential" businesses?

That’s where Cleveland Rocks and Beads owner Jennifer Gerard found herself when COVID-19 hit.  

“I felt a bit like an animal in a glass cage with people banging on the glass throughout the day,” said Gerard. “So, I took that idea to the extreme and made a jungle safari out of my shop windows, with stuffed animals and unusual objects from my trips to Asia, so that people taking their children on walks could look for exotic and mythical beasts in the windows.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 1:51 PM, 05.05.2020

Tommy's restaurant to re-open for takeout

Tommy's restaurant has scheduled its soft re-opening for May 4. While the dining room will remain closed, staff will manage carryout orders seven days a week, from noon to 7 p.m.

Customers can place orders by phone (216-321-7757) or online (, and walkups are welcome. If ordering over-the-phone or online, advance payment is preferred, to facilitate social distancing with staff. 

Tommy's closed in mid-March, in compliance with Gov. DeWine's mandate that non-essential businesses shut down; at that time, owner Tommy Fello chose to suspend takeout orders.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:37 AM, 04.28.2020

Heights businesses adjust hours, services

Some Heights businesses have temporarily closed, and others have made, and continue to make, adjustments to their business hours or practices in an effort to help stem the spread of COVID-19. On March 15, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order to bars and restaurants, instructing them to close as of 9 p.m. that evening. Earlier, he had issued orders to prohibit large public gatherings. On March 23, many Heights businesses that originally remained open announced they would close in accordance with the governor's "stay-at-home" order, effective March 23, 11:59 p.m., through April 6.

The Heights has a large number of independently run, locally owned businesses that will be impacted by the current crisis. 

In an effort to encourage support of businesses remaining open, the city of Cleveland Heights has announced that it is waiving all parking fees in city-owned lots and garages effectively immediately and until further notice.

In addition to takeout service, some businesses offer online or by-phone ordering, and free local delivery. Purchasing gift certificates for future use is another way that Heights residents can support businesses during this difficult time.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 12:07 PM, 03.17.2020

Community supports Lee Road restaurants

“Dewey’s Pizza, please hold. There are two people ahead of you and we’ll get to you as quickly as we can,” said the polite, but a little stressed, voice on the other end of the phone. (Never have I been more pleased to be put on hold while working a story.) Results weren’t much different at another Lee Road purveyor, Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates. “No one will be able to talk to you until after Easter. We’re too busy,” an employee told me. 

In-person visits brought similar results, with waiting in line a requirement for getting a coffee at Phoenix and a whole wheat Pugliese loaf at Stone Oven. Many Lee Road food and beverage businesses are providing service through the pandemic, and grateful customers are responding with purchases, and kindness.

Kelli Kral, an owner of New Heights Grill (2206 Lee Road), said she got an anonymous $500 check in the mail which, she later figured out, came from a man who is a longtime customer. “One lady called last week, and she wanted to set up a Go Fund Me page to help employees out with their rent,” said Kral. She told the woman it wasn’t necessary. Others call with good wishes, and to check up on Kral and the bar. “Our customers have been very supportive,” she said. “We love them all.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:31 AM, 04.30.2020

Grog Shop mural resonates; benefits laid-off employees

“This is a weird time to be alive, right?” he asks.  

“Yeah, totally,” she responds.

When one first steps into the Grog Shop on Coventry Road, that’s the greeting from the large wall mural of a young man and young woman, staring into each other’s eyes, as the world around them burns.

Artist Jake Kelly created the iconic piece for Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman when she moved the historic music venue up the street to its current location in 2003. 

“The apocalypse and ruin have always been part of my work,” said Kelly. 

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 3:02 PM, 04.27.2020

Bialy’s Bagels is back with online ordering

On April 17, Bialy’s Bagels reopened after closing nearly a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owners Rachel and Sarah Gross are now accepting exclusively online orders with curbside pickup. They request that customers place their orders 48 hours in advance, while they adjust to the new system. Bialy’s Bagels plans to be open Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Bialy’s is also giving back to those who are keeping Northeast Ohio safe during this pandemic. For $10, customers can purchase one dozen bagels to be donated to frontline workers. Bialy’s owners will match each donation purchased.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:26 AM, 04.20.2020

Local bakery rises to the occasion

On the Rise is living up to its name, in the age of coronavirus. Managing Partner Brian Evans said before COVID-19 the bakery was doing 200 to 300 orders a day. Today, it's averaging 450. All orders are now placed online, and pre-paid, through Toast Takeout, available through a link at Customers are given an order number with a pick-up time, then follow social distancing guidelines while waiting in front of the store. 

“When we chose to close down for a few days, it wasn’t from lack of demand, it was to find a way to meet demand in a safe manner,” said Evans. “We had a lot of bakers who wanted to keep working. We didn’t want to force anyone to work. Unfortunately, the whole Market Hall [in the Van Aken District, where On the Rise has a second location] closed down, so between the two places we had plenty of people who were still interested.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 9:53 AM, 04.14.2020

Zagara’s Marketplace to close for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday may have extra significance this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the detrimental impact it has had on the economy and human lives. For essential employees placing themselves in harm’s way during this crisis; a day of rest is a welcome occasion.

Zagara’s Marketplace, 1940 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, has announced that store operations will take a break this Easter Sunday to enable employees to rest and spend time with families. “Our team has been working long, hard hours over the past several weeks diligently serving our neighbors and friends,” said John Zagara, president. “They deserve a true day of rest this Easter Sunday. We are so proud of them.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 4:13 PM, 04.09.2020

Best of the Heights 2020

Over a period of six weeks, Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, Heights residents cast their votes in the annual Best of the Heights awards, in recognition of the businesses that serve Cleveland Heights and University Heights. As in prior years, FutureHeights, a nonprofit community development corporation and publisher of the Heights Observer, created a list of unique award categories, showcasing the wide variety of establishments that call the Heights home, and asked residents to vote by writing in the names of their favorites in each category.

“While we celebrate these 2020 awardees,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights, “we also acknowledge how much has changed for all of them—and for all of us—since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. For example, Foodhisattva, a vegan, Asian-fusion cafe, was this year’s winner of Best New Restaurant or Bar. Now, only eight months into a successful first year, it has been forced to temporarily close to eat-in dining.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:14 AM, 03.24.2020

Stone Oven owners reflect on 25 years in business

In the 25 years since Jon Emerman and Tatyana Rehn opened The Stone Oven Bakery Café on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, it has been one of the community’s favorite gathering spots. We asked them some questions about their quarter century in the business, and how they’re adapting their business to the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside-down. Have you ever seen anything like this? Tatyana Rehn: These are truly unprecedented times. Even 9/11 did not affect us anywhere near as much as we are being affected now. We are struggling to keep the staff on and healthy, and to provide something positive to our community

How does the business now compare with the vision when you first opened? Jon Emerman: Our original concept was as it still is—a comfortable and inviting place where people can sit and enjoy a fresh-baked good and cup of coffee, or sandwich made with our bread.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 6:58 AM, 03.31.2020

Heights business anniversaries

The Stone Oven Bakery & Café has just turned 25. Owners Jon Emerman and Tatyana Rehn opened the doors of their popular meeting place on Jan. 25, 1995, in the former Society Bank branch at the corner of Meadowbrook and Lee roads. Several years later, they bought the building at the current location, 2267 Lee Road, and also opened a second location at Eton Chagrin Boulevard in Woodmere.

Reflections Interior Design, at 12423 Cedar Road in the Cedar Fairmount Business District, marked its 10th anniversary under the ownership of Marissa Matiyasic with an open house on Jan. 17. Matiyasic is an NCIDQ-certified designer (National Council for Interior Design Qualification).

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:04 PM, 01.31.2020

New CH bakery is 'boujie'

“Luxurious in lifestyle yet humble in character" is one definition of the hip term “boujie.” That is a perfect description of the new The Boujie Bakery at 1774 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, across from Boulevard Elementary School, a couple blocks south of Mayfield Road.

Walking in the door of this rather plain-looking building, one is immediately enveloped in pink, and a little lavender, on the walls and the displays. Then, ones eyes are drawn to the beautifully decorated cupcakes and cakes.

The owner, artist and lead baker at Boujie is Autumn Oliver, a 23-year-old Heights High graduate, who returned to Cleveland Heights to open the bakery in October 2019, after studying business at the University of Cincinnati.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:49 AM, 01.28.2020

Vote for Best of the Heights in 2020

The Heights prides itself on being home to many locally owned, independent businesses. Beginning Jan. 1, Heights residents can show their appreciation for these businesses by voting for their favorites in the FutureHeights 2020 Best of the Heights Awards contest.

Since 2005, FutureHeights—a nonprofit community development corporation—has conducted the Best of the Heights to recognize the unique attributes of Heights businesses, and their contributions to the local economy. Each year, residents cast their votes for their favorite businesses by nominating them for an award in a variety of categories.

FutureHeights has selected 12 categories for this year’s ballot, including Best New Restaurant or Bar, and Best New Business.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:21 AM, 01.03.2020

CH company seeks nominations for annual furnace giveaway

For the fourth consecutive year, Verne & Ellsworth Hann Inc. will donate a free furnace and installation to a deserving recipient. Chris Hann, co-owner of the Cleveland Heights-based heating, cooling and plumbing company, is asking for nominations from the Heights community and surrounding area.

“We created the Helping Hann free furnace giveaway as a way for our entire organization to give back to the community that has supported us for so many years,” Hann said.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:56 AM, 01.03.2020

Heights salon hosts free event for foster kids

“The thing about foster kids is they end up being like refugees in their own cities,” said Cleveland Heights resident Kevinee Gilmore, founder of the nonprofit #FosterCare ( Starting at age 13, Gilmore spent five years in foster care, giving her direct, and unique, experience being a “kid in the system.”

Many foster children, Gilmore explained, struggle to find stability and a sense of normalcy in day-to-day experiences. “For so many kids in foster care, everyday activities can feel like luxuries,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore is committed to “getting foster youth a seat at the table.” On Thursday, Jan. 23, noon to 1:30 p.m., she’ll be a panelist—along with State Rep. Juanita Brent (District 12)—at a City Club Youth Forum, “The Impact of Foster Care’s Thousands of Ohio’s Children." For information and tickets, visit

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:55 AM, 01.03.2020

Workshop will cover social-media basics for businesses

Social media plays a huge role in how consumers seek out goods and services, but knowing how to navigate those waters can sometimes be daunting for small-business owners. FutureHeights, in partnership with US Bank, is offering a free workshop that will teach the basics of how to “Socialize Local,” with two opportunities to attend: Friday, Nov. 8, 3–4:30 p.m., at Christopher’s Pub (1318 Warrensville Center Road), or Friday, Nov. 15, 3–4:30 p.m., at CLE Urban Winery (2180 Lee Road).

By utilizing Facebook business pages, Instagram, and Twitter, small businesses can get the word out about everything they have to offer. Small business owners in Cleveland Heights and University Heights are invited to attend “Socialize Local” to unlock the mysteries of hashtags, learn how to write effective posts, decide which platforms make the most sense for them to utilize, and learn how to use these social-media platforms in tandem with one another, enabling them to reach the widest possible audience.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:36 PM, 11.01.2019

Heights Arts to host Nov. 7 networking open house for business owners

On Nov. 7, 6–8 p.m., Heights Arts and FutureHeights invite Heights business owners to attend an open house and networking event in the Heights Arts gallery.

Attendees will have an opportunity to meet other members of the local business community, as well as Heights Arts and FutureHeights board members, and share ideas, problems and solutions.

This event is free and will include light fare and a cash bar.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:39 AM, 11.03.2019

Odd Dog Coffee sets up shop at The Walt

If you need another incentive to get out of bed on a Saturday morning this fall, Odd Dog Coffee has one for you.

Odd Dog Coffee will set up a pop-up café every Saturday morning at Walter Stinson Community Park, from 8 a.m. until noon. Owners Michael Hancock and Mary-Elizabeth Fenn will serve up their Good Boy Blend, plus spiced blends including Pumpkin Spice, Cardamom & Clove, and Cacao, Cinnamon & Cayenne Pepper.

Odd Dog Coffee plans to run its pop-up café through December, weather permitting.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:26 PM, 10.14.2019

October food drive will benefit food bank

Shari Garzone and the staff at Jamaican-Me Tan are hosting their annual food drive to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Throughout October, you can drop off food and non-perishable items at Jamaican-Me Tan (14488 Cedar Road). Needed food items include canned beef stew, canned soup, canned tuna, peanut butter, and cereal. In demand non-food items include deodorant, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo, tooth brushes, and tooth paste.

In return for a contribution, those donating items will receive a 10-percent-off coupon.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:28 PM, 10.14.2019

Call for Holiday Gift Guide entries

FutureHeights has issued a call for entries for its annual Holiday Gift Guide that the Heights Observer will publish in its November issue. Entries are due by Oct. 18.

The guide is designed to help Heights residents discover the unique items Heights retailers are offering this holiday season and assist them in “shopping local first” to support the local economy.

The 2019 guide will contain listings in each of the following categories: Stocking Stuffers ($10 or less), Gifts Less Than $50, Gifts $50 to $150, Gifts More Than $150, and Gifts For the Person Who Has It All.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:03 AM, 09.24.2019

Lee Road Dog Grooming provides style and care

Linda McFadden, who loves dogs and Ohio, has brought her advanced grooming skills to Cleveland Heights, where she opened Lee Road Dog Grooming, at 2246 Lee Road, in September 2018.

Born in Glasgow, McFadden grew up among show dogs in Jersey, Channel Islands, where her mother was a dog show judge. McFadden came to the U.S. to show dogs. First stop, Medina. Then she had a dog grooming shop in California’s Bay Area for more than 20 years. But she missed Ohio, and saw opportunity in Cleveland Heights.

McFadden knows best practices for each breed. “I’ve seen the best examples of different breeds, and try to give a pet version [of the style], maybe a bit modified so it’s easier to look after,” she said. She does all the grooming herself, serving only about four dogs a day, and prides herself in creating a relaxing experience. “I love it when people say ‘he doesn’t mind coming in here at all,’” she commented.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 1:27 PM, 08.01.2019

CH's Frank creates meaningful marketing campaigns

Cleveland Heights resident Roger Frank is managing partner of Little Jacket, a branding and visual design firm that has created visual legacies for national, regional and Heights-based institutions.

Originally a Westsider, Frank and his wife, Heidi, considered moving to Cleveland Heights or Shaker Heights, “but kept being pulled to Cleveland Heights,” which they’ve called home since 2001.

“One of the things I love about the Heights is feeling like we live on an island,” said Frank. “You can park your car for the weekend and walk everywhere.” 

Venturing down the hill for work, Frank enjoys Little Jacket's studio space in Little Italy, a site of creativity and camaraderie that contains time capsules such as antique file boxes and marketing artifacts from past and current campaigns.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 1:31 PM, 08.01.2019

Blank Canvas CLE is new Lee Road arts center

A hub of art-making, art-purchasing, and community-building, Blank Canvas CLE is a collective that opened in the Cedar Lee district in February. Owner Michael Newman, a University Heights resident, started the business because of his love of art and community.

With a range of products at every price point—from vintage baseball cards and graphic art giftables to wall art and custom framing—Blank Canvas CLE makes original artwork accessible to all. Newman invites local artists to approach him about exhibits and showcase events. “We will have monthly shows, with constant movement of works on display,” said Newman.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:27 AM, 06.28.2019

Heights High family brings 'Cheers'-like spot to hometown

The three Loretz sibilings, all Heights High alums, wanted to bring a version of the TV-bar Cheers to their hometown. Bryan Loretz (class of ’84) said they didn't want to open another watering hole or a sports bar. "We wanted to create a place like 'Cheers,' where everyone knows your name. We wanted a place where patrons could come, feel safe, dance, meet friends and make new ones, have good food and drinks in an upscale atmosphere." His brother, Damon (class of ‘93), agreed, "If you close your eyes, we wanted you to think you were in Atlanta, New York City, or Chicago. That's the vibe we wanted to create."

After years of wishing, planning and hard work, Networkz Restaurant & Lounge (3560 Mayfield Road) opened last October. Sister Lillian Loretz-Williams (class of ’76) led the way.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:25 AM, 06.28.2019

Former pop-up Foodhisattva brings vegan-Asian to South Taylor

Six years ago, Joshua Sias and Frances Cheng began offering pop-up vegan fare—first, from a chocolate shop in Lyndhurst, then at various other locations in Greater Cleveland, including The Bottlehouse in Cleveland Heights. These themed dining experiences were a way to bring new cuisine to the area and show that great food can be made without harming animals—something important to Sias and Cheng. What started as little more than a hobby has led the couple to establish their own Asian-themed restaurant in Cleveland Heights.

The two, partners and spouses, are looking to a June opening for Foodhisattva, their vegan Asian restaurant at 2158 South Taylor Road.

“We were the first in the area to have a vegan pop-up,” Sias said. “And after a while, people started asking us to do it again.” When their semi-regular pop-up nights at The Bottlehouse on Lee Road became increasingly popular, the couple realized there was a demand for vegan food on the East Side. “It was a long time coming,” Sias said. “And the natural evolution of a pop-up is a restaurant.”

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 10:04 AM, 06.03.2019

May 17 workshop will focus on home-based businesses

On May 17 home-based business owners will have the opportunity to learn strategies and techniques on how to move into an office or storefront. FutureHeights is sponsoring the free workshop “From Home-Based to Storefront,” which aims to teach business owners about the resources available to them in the community, what to consider when determining whether to move into a storefront or rented office space, and strategies for growth.

The workshop will host two speakers, Jennifer Corso and Marc Rossen of Petronzio Schneier Co., LPA, who have both focused much of their careers on small business development. Corso practices in the area of employment law, and advises small businesses on hiring, firing, discipline and safety issues. Rossen focuses on startup law, helping entrepreneurs and small businesses with such issues as setting up a business entity, protecting business ideas and intellectual property, funding a growing business, acquiring new businesses and more.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 1:07 PM, 05.01.2019

S'Wonderful Gifts delivers personalized service close to home

S’Wonderful Gifts at 2254 Lee Road can solve a gift emergency faster than a drive to a big box store. Bill Wort opened his shop in the Cedar Lee shopping district in November 2015, after 32 years as a buyer for museum shops in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. The store stocks a cross-section of gifts, from whimsical to wearable—silly and sassy socks are a perennial best-seller during the holidays.

Wort’s collection is curated but eclectic. Maybe that’s because he worked for 16 years at the Smithsonian’s Asian museums in D.C., buying things that had to be related to their Asian collections. “I don’t have that restriction now!” exclaimed Wort. “It’s fun when you go to market and think . . . I love this. I haven’t seen this before.”

His products fall into five categories: jewelry and other wearable accessories, such as watches, scarves and purses; games and toys; stationery/cards; pens/pencils; and books (mostly children’s). Whether big or small, items are laid out to be seen and enjoyed, as if in a museum.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 1:04 PM, 05.01.2019

Heights HVAC company picks recipient in annual furnace giveaway

Verne & Ellsworth Hann Inc., the Cleveland Heights-based heating and cooling company, selected Heather Kwedder of Willoughby as the winner in its third annual Helping Hann Furnace Giveaway. The company provided her with a free furnace and installation, including labor and materials.

Kwedder’s 23-year-old son, Rick, is chronically ill and has been hospitalized on and off throughout his life. While her husband, John, is Rick’s full-time caregiver, Kwedder has had to take leaves of absence from her nursing job when lengthy hospital stays require more attention than one person can provide.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 9:50 AM, 04.10.2019

Lusty Wrench closes after 40 years

Cleveland Heights has many intelligent, knowledgeable, skilled, dedicated and civic-minded entrepreneurs. Sam Bell, who has been one such local treasure for nearly 40 years, made the decision to close his business, The Lusty Wrench, as of mid-March.

Bell started The Lusty Wrench in 1979, after having taken his own car to be serviced before a road trip. Despite the “trip check,” the car broke down en route. The frustration of having just paid a professional to attend to the car to prevent such misery and inconvenience spurred Bell to wonder, “Is it feasible to run an auto repair shop based on competence, honesty and integrity?” He opened The Lusty Wrench the next week.

Bell said of his business, “Our goal has always been to provide excellent mechanical repair and maintenance services to all our automotive customers. We’re in the service business, so our job is to say, ‘Yes.’”

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 2:18 PM, 04.01.2019

Paws CLE and Lox, Stock and Brisket are 2019 'best new businesses'

In the 2019 Best of the Heights Awards contest, readers of the Heights Observer honored outstanding businesses in Cleveland Heights and University Heights by voting, Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, for their favorites in 12 categories. Lox, Stock and Brisket, a contemporary Jewish deli in University Heights, is the winner in the Best New Restaurant or Bar category, and PawsCLE, a doggy daycare and boarding facility in Cleveland Heights, is the winner in the Best New Business (other) category.

Lox, Stock and Brisket, 13892 Cedar Road, is owned by Chef Anthony Zappola, a Cleveland native who returned to his hometown after starting a successful Asian fusion restaurant in Las Vegas. Zappola, who is of Italian heritage, is tickled that the restaurant has become so popular after only 10 months in business. “I didn’t expect it,” he said. “I thought perhaps we would attract the hipsters, but I’m thrilled that the locals like us so much.” The restaurant, which is closed Mondays, is open for breakfast and lunch, serving Jewish deli favorites with a contemporary twist.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 1:15 PM, 04.01.2019

CH is using new tools to attract new businesses

In 2017 and 2018, Cleveland Heights welcomed 95 new businesses to the city. From law firms to doggy daycare, from craft breweries to art galleries, many small businesses are choosing Cleveland Heights as their home. With more than 500 small businesses, Cleveland Heights is an epicenter of small, locally owned businesses in Northeast Ohio.

The city has expanded the tools and incentives it uses to attract and retain businesses, helping to make Cleveland Heights a desirable location for entrepreneurs. The Economic Development Toolbox that Cleveland Heights offers can help meet the financing needs of the business community, including loan financing, grants, rebates and tax incentives.

The city’s Commercial Loan Program provides gap financing on a project, in conjunction with a bank loan and owner equity. In order to receive funding, projects must create at least one low- to moderate-income job for every $35,000 lent. The Commercial Loan Program assisted with financing Boss Dog Brewery’s brewing equipment when it opened on Lee Road in 2017, helping launch that  new business.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 9:45 AM, 03.26.2019

Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce announces online commercial property database

The Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce (HRCC), which represents the cities of Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, Richmond Heights, Shaker Heights, South Euclid and University Heights, announced last month that a commercial property database is now available on its website, at

"The database is a comprehensive listing of available commercial properties within our region," said Karen Schaefer, HRCC executive director. "We're so proud to partner with our cities to make this available."

Commercial brokers and businesses can access the database for information about the physical property, demographics, and the appropriate city representative's contact information. Brokers can visit each city's website for a listing of properties in each specific community, or can visit the chamber's website to see a listing of properties in all six communities.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:20 AM, 03.18.2019

FutureHeights announces 2019 Best of the Heights Award winners

In the 2019 Best of the Heights Awards contest, readers of the Heights Observer honored outstanding businesses in Cleveland Heights and University Heights by voting, Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, for their favorites in 12 categories. In all, 178 businesses were nominated.

Winners and Finalists in the FutureHeights 2019 Best of the Heights Awards contest are:

Best New Restaurant or Bar
Lox, Stock and Brisket
Boss Dog Brewing Co.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 7:06 PM, 02.25.2019

Cleveland Running Co. merges with like-minded store

Owner Jeff Fisher is excited to announce that his Lee Road business, Cleveland Running Company, is merging with the Achilles Running Shop, a like-minded regional running store with locations in Mentor and Erie, Pa. As of press time, the store's new name had yet to be finalized.

The merger came about quickly. Fisher and David Jacobson, general manager of Achilles, met in December 2018. Familiar with one another through the industry, it was business-sector kismet. The future partners began discussing the merger in January 2019. By early February, the partnership was designed, the lease transferred, the inventory management software in use, and the management team was enjoying day-to-day collaboration.

“It’s a win-win,” said Fisher, who is excited for customers to experience the expanded inventory, expertise and programming that is on the horizon.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 1:02 PM, 03.03.2019

Blush Boutique Coventry to close March 31

On March 31, after nearly a decade on Coventry Road, Blush Boutique will be closing the doors to its small, intimate Cleveland Heights boutique.

Owner Laurie Klopper, a Cleveland Heights resident, said she is closing to focus on her other location in Chagrin Falls and because sales at her shop on Coventry Road have greatly diminished.

“People just aren’t coming to Coventry to shop and walk around anymore,” said Klopper. Indeed, American Apparel, Winking Lizard, Chipotle, Big Fun and Piccadilly have all left in the past few years. “It’s an alarming trend on what was once a vibrant and eclectic street,” she added.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 7:01 PM, 02.25.2019

Kensington Pub owners have opening date in sight

More than a year after they first hoped to open, in December 2017, the co-owners of Kensington Pub (2260 Lee Road) now hope to open within the next month—or two. Brad Poe and Jeff King faced bigger remodeling challenges than they expected in opening their first restaurant—what Poe called a "perfect storm of obstacles."

“The original proposed opening was totally unrealistic in retrospect,” said Poe. “We encountered more renovations than we anticipated, especially since it was our first foray into restaurant ownership.”

He noted that he's  “very pleased with the exterior renovations, even with construction delays.” The exterior work was financed by the building’s landlord as part of a block-long renovation.

The project has been a labor of love for the two longtime Cleveland Heights residents who have more than 40 years of restaurant experience between them.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 4:36 PM, 02.01.2019

Mouriño joins Cedar Fairmount clinic

Dr. Laura Mouriño has joined the Options Naturopathic Clinic practice of Erin Holston Singh, N.D., in the Cedar Fairmount Business District’s Heights Medical Building.

As naturopathic doctors, both Mouriño and Holston seek to support individuals in their journey to optimal health through natural means, and stress the important connections between social issues, environmental concerns and human health.

A graduate of the National University of Natural Medicine (formerly the National College of Natural Medicine), Mouriño attributes her pursuit of this field of medicine to her “complex medical history as a child.”

“After the removal of a benign brain tumor,” Mouriño explained, “my mother’s family used ‘folk medicine,’ along with conventional medicine, to assist in my recovery. The herbs and natural ingredients used allowed me to heal faster, and without scars.” Mouriño became interested in good food, and the medical aspects of healing with naturopathic methods.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 4:43 PM, 02.01.2019

Ring names Lynch his partner in Nighttown

Brendan Ring, owner of Nighttown, has made event manager Melissa Lynch a partner in the iconic, long-lived restaurant and music club. In making the announcement, Ring quoted Nighttown’s former owner John Barr, who said, “It took me 27 years to find a partner in Brendan." For his part, Ring said, “It took me only 25 years to find Melissa."

“I am extremely honored to be able to be part of this amazing restaurant and to be working with such a wonderful team and, of course, Brendan Ring,” said Lynch. “I am excited to work with our guests and staff.”

Her goals are to work closely with Ring, to bring Nighttown’s everyday costs down and increase traffic into the restaurant. The partners plan to offer fresh new food items, while keeping the entrees that their regular customers love. Lynch anticipates that small changes in décor will be made, but the familiar Nighttown atmosphere will remain.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:35 AM, 01.29.2019

Kaye Lowe retires with a party at Nighttown

Friends of Kaye Lowe gathered at Nighttown on Jan. 16, to honor her upon her retirement after 18 years of service as executive director of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District (CFSID) and its predecessor, the Cedar Fairmount Business Association.

Members of Cleveland Heights City Council presented her with a plaque at the event.

CFSID has named Heights resident Myra Orenstein its new executive director.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:20 AM, 02.01.2019

Cedar Fairmount SID names new director

The Board of Directors of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District (CFSID) has appointed Cleveland Heights resident Myra Orenstein as its new executive director. Orenstein follows in the footsteps of recently retired Kaye Lowe, who occupied the position for 18 years.

"Kaye did a remarkable job as executive director," said Orenstein. "She helped grow the district from a merchants' association, through its development as a Special Improvement District and, most recently, helped spearhead its streetscape. She has left me with big shoes to fill, to say the least."

As she assumes her new role, Orenstein is particularly excited about working with the CFSID and the city of Cleveland Heights in the development, and ultimate completion, of the Top of the Hill Project.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:39 AM, 01.29.2019

Marotta's to close for renovations

Staying true to Brian and Alicia Linihan’s original vision and taste, Marotta's, the Lee Road landmark, will close Feb. 3 for an estimated six-week renovation that promises to retain the warmth and charm that customers have always loved. According to the restaurant’s general manager—and the owners’ niece—Alexandrea Quinn, customers can expect a gentle facelift that includes updated tables, chairs, paint and light fixtures. 

“Brian wanted to add a room for private wine dinners,” said Quinn. This will include an expanded offering of wines and cocktails. While the menu will stay the same, customers will notice more aperitifs, staff guidance with the all-Italian wine list, plus encouragement to dine slowly and enjoy their tables, unhurried, post-meal. 

A family-run business, Marotta’s first opened on Lee Road in 2000. The Heights community surrounded the family with support when co-owner Alicia Linihan died suddenly in 2016.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:42 AM, 01.15.2019

A fine-dining gem opens on Noble

The comfortable and relaxing feel of Jewellz Fine Dining, 2204 Noble Road, carries through from the moment one enters this newly opened restaurant to the wonderful, unexpected flavors of the delicious food.

Don't expect fast-food or corner diner-type fare here. This is a menu with grace, intelligence and warmth.

The hard work and skills of chef/owner Dieesha Witherspoon come together in a multifaceted menu that may include rack-of-lamb chops, chicken Alfredo and grilled salmon. Diners can also expect to find a variety of hot wing preparations, an “Amazing Burger,” and chicken spaghetti. What primarily fills the menu, though, are those types of meals that families might eagerly relish at their own home tables following Sunday church.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:38 PM, 01.03.2019

Vote for Best of the Heights in 2019

Beginning Jan. 1, Heights residents can show their appreciation for local businesses by voting for their favorites in the FutureHeights 2019 Best of the Heights Awards contest.

Since 2005, FutureHeights—a nonprofit community development corporation—has conducted the Best of the Heights to recognize the unique attributes of locally owned Heights businesses, and their contributions to the local economy. Each year, residents cast their votes for their favorite businesses by nominating them for an award in a variety of categories.

FutureHeights’ Planning & Development Committee has selected 12 categories for this year’s ballot, including Best New Business and Best Bang for Your Buck.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:27 PM, 01.02.2019

Child and teen wellness practice opens in Cedar Fairmount

Richard Dempsey, a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) has opened a child and adolescent psychotherapy practice in the Cedar Fairmount Business District.

Fairmount Mental Wellness, located in the Heights Medical Building (2460 Fairmount Blvd., Suite 317), serves the social and emotional needs of children and their families.

Specializing in narrative therapy, Dempsey’s focus is on helping angry kids, frustrated parents and disconnected families, and addressing concerns related to behavior, anxiety and depression.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:41 PM, 01.03.2019

'Helping Hann' furnace giveaway now in its third year

Verne & Ellsworth Hann Inc. is accepting nominations for its third annual Helping Hann furnace giveaway, in which a deserving member of the community will receive a free furnace and installation.

Chris Hann, co-owner of the Cleveland Heights-based heating, cooling and plumbing company, is asking for nominations from Cleveland Heights, University Heights and other east side communities.

“It has been our honor to install a new furnace the past two years to deserving homeowners,” Hann said. “Again, we want to share our good fortune by continuing to give back to the community that’s been so good to our family all these years. We are hopeful that members of the community will nominate themselves or someone they know who is without heat or has an old furnace and is in desperate need of a new one.”

This year’s winner will receive a new high-efficiency heating system and installation, with a total value of up to $3,500.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 10:13 AM, 12.18.2018

Coventry SID welcomes new executive director

It’s a behind-the-scenes job that makes a ton of difference for our community. In her role as Executive Director of the Coventry Village Special Improvement District (SID), Mallory Phillips attends board meetings; oversees neighborhood events, marketing, and street beautification; connects with property owners and merchants; communicates among the board, the city, merchants, and the neighborhood; and increases awareness of and the direction for the Coventry district. 

Phillips was drawn to the opportunity because she has long felt that there is something special about Coventry. Phillips moved to Cleveland after visiting a friend in Westlake several times over the years. Every time she came to town, Coventry was a destination. “Coventry was part of my first impressions of Cleveland and became a quick part of my own experience,” she said.

Coming from Los Angeles, the “east/west thing didn’t matter,” said Phillips, who found herself hopping over from Ohio City to spend the full day in Coventry.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 8:44 AM, 11.13.2018

Cafe Tandoor marks 26 years in CH

Just before New Year’s Eve in 1992, Raj Singh put the finishing touches on what would become a local legend—Cleveland Height’s long-lived Cafe Tandoor. As another new year approaches, the restaurant is wrapping up its 26th year of business.

Seeing a niche opportunity in the 1990s, Singh wanted to open an Indian restaurant as, back then, there was only one Cleveland restaurant serving Indian food.

Singh said he chose to open his restaurant in Cleveland Heights because of its metropolitan and open-minded nature. To craft a rich menu with fine ingredients, Singh relied heavily on Chef Satpal Kashyap, a five-star chef from Mubai, India, and Kashyap's brother in-law, Chef Pishori Lal, who remains Cafe Tandoor’s head chef today.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 10:27 AM, 12.03.2018

Little Italy restaurateur now owns Inn on Coventry

The Inn on Coventry, located at the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, has been serving up delicious breakfast and lunch fare for 37 years. Popular among many Heights locals, it’s not uncommon to run into someone you know at the inn. The casual, open dining room creates a social atmosphere while also maintaining a cozy, homey feel.

Under continuous family ownership since its 1981 opening, the inn changed hands in January 2018 when the owners decided to retire. Eddie Zalar, a Chardon native and the former owner of Nora, an upscale Italian eatery in Little Italy, purchased the restaurant.

Zalar, who now lives in Lakewood, is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. He worked in several restaurants before moving back to Ohio in 2015 to open Nora. Creating and maintaining a successful business at Nora required Zalar to work long hours. With his second child on the way, the daytime operating hours of the inn were appealing, and so he made the switch.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 11:18 AM, 11.27.2018