—Terrestrial Brewing Co.: born from friends

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ever go to a bar, a comfortable kind of place where you strike up a friendship with folks who work there? That’s how Ralph Sgro and Ryan Bennett met, and that friendship became the genesis of Terrestrial Brewing.

Actually, the friendship was kick-started by Sgro’s wife, who was working at Tremont Tap House. She and Bennett struck up conversation, and she told him, ‘Oh if you like beer you should really meet my husband at Platform’. So Bennett found himself sipping a Speed Merchant at Platform Beer Co., where Sgro was general manager. A friendship was born over suds.”We have the same passion for the industry, and similar beer palate,” Sgro said. “We built a trust first.” That friendship over beers that evolved into trust soon blossomed into a business venture: Terrestrial Brewing Co., which is slated to open in April.”I always wanted to own a brewery,” Bennett said. “I was going to Platform a lot.”

Now the two are working a lot. They are transforming the old Battery Park building into a brewery. It’s just less than 3,300 square feet and adjacent to Cha Spirits & Pizza. “We want to make small-batch beers – a focus on distribution is not in the game plan,” Sgro said. “We want to use unique ingredients. Style guidelines are being blown up. You enter beer in a competition and you don’t even know what style it is.” Bennett, from Cleveland, has worked for 15 years in finance, managing billion-dollar accounts for companies. He has a finance degree from John Carroll University and an MBA from Cleveland State, while Sgro, from Parma, went to Kent State. Like many of the area’s brewery owners and workers, they believe in a communal nature, a camaraderie of helping one another. Karl Spiesman (Brick and Barrel), Jay Demagall (Forest City Brewery), Shaun Yasaki (formerly of Platform, now starting Noble Beast) and Justin Carson and Paul Benner (Platform) all have reached out to offer support. “I really think it’s for us to grow slow,” Bennett said. “Let demand dictate supply instead of us dictating demand.”

“We aren’t going to make a million kajillion dollars,” Sgro said. “We’re more interested in putting out quality beer in the craft-beer scene.”

12-pack of facts about Terrestrial Brewing:

* The name refers to being of the earth, as in quality ingredients.

* The location used to be the Eveready Battery Co. powerhouse, a plant that Sgro said made the first alkaline batteries in the now 100-plus year-old structure. And yes, expect that to figure into a beer name’s homage at some point. (Battery Blonde Ale, anyone? Positive Pale Ale? Negative Nut Brown Ale?)

* The design is very transparent. The bar will line the back with a view overlooking Edgewater Park. Tables will be on the right as you walk in, tanks in the middle.

* Brewhouse equipment comes from Portland Kettle Works. Terrestrial will use a five-barrel system – five 5-barrel fermenters and one 10-barrel fermenter.

* A high-tech claw-like machine will move kegs. “Schlepping kegs is the least favorite part of my job,” Sgro said.

* A patio and wrap-around deck could be in the works, and they are hoping to expand to the upstairs space.

* The basement feels like something out of “Angels & Demons,” with a catacomb-like feel, arched doorways and various brick cutouts. The space would be perfect for barrel aging, Sgro said, and a sour program remains a possibility.

* Terrestrial will be pet- and family-friendly.

* Sgro and Bennett envision an outdoor fest on the adjacent grassy area for the neighborhood, which has several blocks of recently built townhomes.

* People will be able to bring in food, and Sgro and Bennett hope to partner with places.

* Wine will be available, as will Ohio-made spirits. They hope to bring in local distilleries.

Vita Urbana is around the corner, and Gordon Square Arts District is about a half a mile away.


JUN 2015

—Graffiti: A Social Kitchen

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Amidst one of the iciest weather days in Ohio history, Graffiti: A Social Kitchen opened in Cleveland’s Battery Park neighborhood. “It was like ‘Restaurant Impossible’ getting it opened,” says co-owner Brian Okin. Okin had thrown himself into the mission of launching a companion restaurant toCork & Cleaver Social Kitchen, the popular Broadview Heights spot he operates with business partner (and brother-in-law) Adam Bostwick. “I didn’t have heat until, like, 10 minutes after people were supposed to arrive — or lights, to illuminate the room,” Okin says. “It was scary. “Fortunately we pulled it together.” After those stumbles, solved with some temporary lighting equipment, the Graffiti team got things rolling in the former Reddstone, 1261 West 76th Street. Their friends and family event drew “industry people wishing us well, plus a lot of neighborhood people who’re happy to see more of a restaurant opening here,” Okin says.

He adds that he’s pleased with the partners’ decision to move away from a music-centric spot in favor of casual but creative food offerings and specialty drinks. “We have craft cocktails, and 20 different craft beers on tap — but not really any ‘well liquors,'” Okin says.

The menu is composed largely of casual, shareable fare such as charcuterie boards; fried oysters; French onion egg rolls laced with Gruyere cheese; chorizo and goat cheese guacamole-topped potato skins; and house-made Hillbilly Bologna Pate with sweet pickle relish and Goat Cheese Whiz. Those prices range from $8 to $19. Entrees range from the $14 Lake Erie Creamery-topped Graffiti Burger to a $23 Flat Iron Steak with potatoes pizziaola and Manchego cheese. Shepherd’s Pie, a short rib chili omelet and other dishes are priced mid-range. For now, the restaurant’s winter hours are 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; and 4-9 p.m. Sundays. Brian Toomey, who cooked with Okin at his former Verve Restaurant in downtown Cleveland (and more recently with Michael Nowak at the Black Pig), will jump in at the Broadview Heights restaurant. Okin’s wife, Amanda, a front-house veteran, will run the dining room side of things. “Once we go into spring, we’ll go seven days [a week] and offer brunch on Sundays,” Okin says. Happy hour will soon be introduced. “We don’t have everything nailed yet. We have a lot of veteran servers, but otherwise the space is new to the rest of us and we’re finding our way,” Okin says. “With two floors, we have stairs involved, so there’s another thing to negotiate. I’d rather we roll things out slowly rather than make big mistakes.” For reservations call 216-651-6969.


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MAY 2015

7524 Father Frascati Dr. (Battery Park), Cleveland; chapizza.com, 216-631-9242 (brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday)

Looking for a great weekend brunch in Northeast Ohio? Here’s an entry from our recent A-List guide to CLE brunches and breakfasts: Cha Pizza & Spirits in Cleveland’s Battery Park neighborhood. Cha bills its weekly gathering as “Bongo Brunch Sundays” and there’s a jazzy feeling in the air. The concept of “a basket of breakfast goodies” ($6) got my attention, and we had fun picking through moist treats like pound cake slices, chocolate chip-laced banana bread and a lemony cupcake. Most of the menu’s egg-and-“stuff” entrees take the form of skillets ($12-$14) and the Meat Lovers (loaded with bits of good sausage, crisp bacon and al dente peppers, topped with a fried egg) was enough to share. Especially when enjoyed with light but substantial Whole Wheat Waffle topped with cinnamon pears ($12) and a side of maple syrup. Good coffee. An average Bloody Mary (the make-your-own Mary/Mimosa bar, $7, was closed).

MAR 2015


The Gordon Square Arts District is a success story 40 years in the making. At one critical juncture in the neighborhood’s history in the mid 1970’s, a massive chunk of the facade of the Gordon Square arcade building actually fell onto the sidewalk. City officials contemplated demolishing the historic structure, but fortunately the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DCSDO) was formed to help to save it. Today, Gordon Square is a unique arts and retail district at West 65th and Detroit Avenue within the larger Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. It consists of theatres, restaurants, boutiques, a slew of art galleries and a bookstore. The group has a unique story — two arts organizations and a CDC led a collaborative campaign over the past decade to remake this block as a pedestrian-friendly arts district.

The three organizations involved in GSAD are Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre and DSCDO, which owns the Capitol Theatre. Leaders here completed the multi-year, $30 million capital campaign in September, then launched directly into the area’s new master plan. The city has committed nearly two million dollars to expand the streetscape that will be available in July 2016.

The revitalization of The Gordon Square Arts District has created over 80 new businesses, including a slew of arts-related enterprises in the 78th Street Studios, which offer one of the largest concentration of arts businesses in the city (and probably within the metropolitan area, as well). Gordon Square also returned four million dollars in sales and property taxes to the local economy last year. “It’s a great story about Cleveland and how we get the bigger picture of what it takes to make change,” says Judi Feniger, executive director of GSAD. “I think the visionaries here could see around the corner and could see what we could be — and it’s happening now and it’s incredible.” The goals of Gordon Square’s new master plan include strengthening and reinforcing the area’s identity; building up the strength, health and livability of the surrounding mixed-income community by capitalizing on assets and bringing in new residents; and focusing on and leveraging the core $30 million dollar investment.

Realizing the $30m campaign goal—With the campaign complete, more new businesses are popping up in Gordon Square. This past month marked the opening of Graffiti: A Social Kitchen in Battery Park and Local West, a new sandwich shop on Detroit Road. It also saw the opening of oWow, a new independent internet rock station launched at 78th Street Studios.

This is a direct result of Gordon Square’s six-year, $30 million joint capitol campaign, which concluded with the opening of Near West Theatre at the end of February. The city of Cleveland funded $5.3 million of the campaign to restore the Capitol Theatre and complete the streetscape, including adding parking spaces, while the remainder was given by individuals, foundations and corporations. Gordon Square Theatre (now Cleveland Public Theatre’s main stage) opened in 1911 as a vaudeville theatre. In 1921, the Capitol Theatre opened. Beginning in the early 70s, the neighborhood started to fade as manufacturing jobs began to leave the area. Much to the dismay of residents, the Capitol Theatre closed in 1985.

DSCDO formed in 1973 as the neighborhood began to slip and has been an enduring and powerful force in improving the area. Matt Zone has been the councilman for the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood since 2001. He was born and raised in the neighborhood and has been a key driver behind the area’s revitalization. He believes in the value of nurturing an arts district and views public dollars as the little bit of yeast that raises the private sector. “I have been lobbying for quite some time to expand the streetscape both east and west,” says Zone. “I realized that a lot of the vibrancy of the arts community occurred after receiving public dollars to improve the streetscape.”

Zone was born and raised on W. 61st and his father, Michael J. Zone, was a councilman from ‘60 to ‘74. When his father passed away, his mother, Mary J. Zone, finished his term ending in ‘81. “Having been born and raised here I have a great respect and love for this community and I wanted to get in an elected leader position to help with a renaissance in the community,” Zone says. As the neighborhood thrives and gains momentum, the initial $30 million campaign remains the fortifying bones that have initiated change and allowed it to grow as an arts community.

New arts-related businesses are adding flesh and blood to those bones. TheCapitol Theatre, a three screen historic movie theatre on W. 65th, was redeveloped right as the 2008 recession hit. The Capitol now has two neighbors, Hausfrau Record Shop and Guide to Kulchur, a bookstore and zine and small press co-op, respectively. Guide to Kulcher was founded by R.A. Washington and Lyz Bly, two fixtures on the arts and culture scene for many years. Washington, who goes by Rafiq, is a DIY artist and curator of one of the last independent bookstores in the city of Cleveland. Guide to Kulchur’s readings and events offer free access to culture in a diverse environment. “In terms of us being here, I think people respect how humbly we do things,” says Washington. “People want a bookstore in their neighborhood and it’s an especially good resource for young people who can’t get into bars or don’t have money to spend at restaurants.”

Looking forward to the new master plan—It’s a shorter walk from Happy Dog at West 58th and Detroit to Rising Star at West 29th and Detroit than from the Terminal Tower to Browns Stadium, yet most people probably don’t realize it. Gordon Square’s master plan aims to improve that connectivity and extend the neighborhood’s urban fabric to Ohio City, including the Hingetown district. The key, arts district leaders say, is to fill in the gaps and link the districts to each other and downtown with new development and community improvement projects.  “They say it takes a village and it’s true,” says Feniger. The plan aims to foster stronger communities by filling in missing teeth (unused property) along Detroit and gradually building on underutilized property surrounding The Harp at 45th Street. The new Mariner’s Watch apartments at West 32nd and Detroit, which open later this year, offer one example of infill development.

The planning committee worked collaboratively to create a strategic plan for the district, taking into consideration a long-term future for the neighborhood that will still fit even 50 or 60 years down the line. “Our goal in going forward with the master plan was to ask ‘Where is the need’ and ‘where is the opportunity?’” says Feniger. “A lot was accomplished and there is a lot to be done. The master plan hopes to embrace the changes created by the capital campaign to imagine a Gordon Square that is fully connected to its surrounding neighborhoods.” The plan aims to foster greater connectivity to the lakefront, improve physical linkages to other neighborhoods and leverage the arts to improve the neighborhood. One idea is to make sure there’s space for galleries, pop-up and outdoor spaces for theatre and public installations. “It’s all part of the idea that people need art and culture — art visibility is good economically and for everyone’s souls,” Feniger says.

Sean Watterson, co-owner of Happy Dog, is a huge proponent of the area. “We see Detroit from 25th to 78th Street Studios as an arts corridor where our art is being made as a complement to University Circle,” he told City Council last year.

Lakefront access could be improved in a number of ways. The Metroparks has already vastly improved the quality of Edgewater Park. Leaders hope to make additional improvements to the pedestrian tunnel at 65th that links the neighborhood to Edgewater, creating an even more iconic, safe and welcoming passage. They also hope to redevelop 45th and Detroit as a key site because it’s highly accessible and a gateway to the neighborhood. Planners have envisioned a retail and housing site, including a possible grocery store, where the current Max Hayes campus is located. (The school will be relocated when the new building is complete next year.) The surrounding property could also be redeveloped.

A community vision beyond the capital campaign

Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka has lived in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood his whole life. He served as DCSDO’s executive director from 1974-1986 and then joined city council from 1986-1996. He has witnessed the long term grassroots effort to save the neighborhood and watched it shift into using the arts district as a positive form of development. “For the arts district, saving that building was the seminal piece,” says Pianka. “It became an epic story about the small community development organization taking on a huge project and it laid the foundation for great success.” The nucleus of arts-related businesses in Gordon Square were created organically without a large developer coming into the neighborhood. The community started off as a hub for live theatre in the 1980’s and has built off the base that it created at that time. It is currently home to Cleveland Public TheatreNear West Theatre, Blank Canvas Theatre and Talespinner Childrens Theatre, in addition to the Capitol.

“One thing going forward is that it will be a collaboration,” says Jenny Spencer, managing director of DSCDO. Spencer is referring not only to collaboration between the arts organizations and DSCDO but an ongoing collaboration with residents. Community outreach for the master plan included putting together a dynamic committee that consisted of many local merchants and community members, interviewing 24 different stakeholders, and hearing ideas from residents.

One of DSCDO’s core values is maintaining a mixed income neighborhood with access to resources for all members of the community. DSCDO owns 12 buildings with a total of 210 units, most of which are affordable. Cleveland Public Theatre also engages the community through public outreach programs, including Brick City Theatre, the Student Theatre Enrichment Program (STEP) and Y-Haven Theatre Project. Brick City is CPT’s year-round after-school program and intensive summer arts program for kids ages 5-14 who reside in public housing. STEP is an eight-week arts-based job training program for teens ages 14-19 from low-income families that teaches performance, play creation, writing and production. The program has been running for 20 years and has become a much-admired model for engaging marginalized youth. These community outreach efforts will continue. “There are many parts of our neighborhood that got hit hard by the foreclosure crisis,” says Spencer. “We still have around 30 percent poverty. There are many opportunities to connect people to resources and make meaningful physical development in our community.”



APR 2011

CLEVELAND — The Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood is attracting residents to the city. It offers newly-remodeled houses that are more than a century old. That’s where we’re “On Location” tonight. Battery Park and other recently-constructed projects offer the advantages of city living in newly-constructed homes. The 10th building of Battery Park will start going up in about a week. There are 70 units now. The goal is to have 300. And the Detroit/Shoreway Community Development group is putting an emphasis on creating affordable housing.  Foreclosure touched 22 percent of homes in the community. The group purchased and renovated homes on its own. Now it connects developers with available properties. The Gordon Square neighborhood is a hub for the housing efforts. Longtime property owners’ homes have appreciated because of all the new commercial and residential  development.


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