Last week, Matthew and I had the unique opportunity to get an inside glimpse at the design and build-out of one of Cleveland’s most striking restaurants: Crop Bar and Bistro. The presentation was led by Chef and owner of Crop, Steve Schimoler and the lead architect on the project, Gary Fischer of Arkinetics.
The presentation was largely focused on how to build your own restaurant, from choosing a location, to walking the space, to working with an architect, and so on. The crowd contained a lot of students from Tri-C’s Hospitality Management Center, furiously taking notes and dreaming of opening their own places.
For Matthew and I, it was the particular architecture and story behind Crop that was fascinating. Crop Bar and Bistro is located in a former bank. The presentation portion of the evening took place in the bank’s vault, with a 90,000-pound door standing guard over our entrance way.
Upstairs, the ceiling and walls have all be refurbished into their original glory. As Matthew observed, “They just don’t build places like this anymore.”
Perhaps most impressive is the mural over the bar. Chef Schimoler explained that when he originally purchased this space, the storm clouds in the mural were not visible. Through careful cleaning and restoration, those storm clouds gathering behind the market scene in the mural became visible and struck Chef Schimoler as being prescient, as the mural was painted in 1925.
These clouds changed Chef Schimoler’s vision for the restaurant. While he originally wanted to create a “bank themed” restaurant, he decided to create the type of restaurant the architects who built the bank – Walker and Weeks – would have built in the 1920’s.
The result is a beautiful, vibrant space that is a throwback to more glamorous times, while serving modern food. After our tour, we were treated to beer from Willoughby Brewing Company, wine, and delicious appetizers.
Stop by Crop Bar and Bistro for yourself and take the time to soak in the history and care with which the building was both originally designed and carefully recreated. And if you really want to enjoy the 1920’s theme of the restaurant, then check out the Emerging Chefs “The Roaring Twenties” party, happening at Crop on Sunday, October 28. There will be flappers, period cocktails, live music, and a five-course dinner served in the vault. Tickets are $175 for this dramatic and special night.
Chef Schimoler left us with the advice that to be a success in the restaurant business, you have to be a part of the community. Crop Bar and Bistro is certainly an elegant and unique part of the Ohio City community!
***Disclosure: I and a guest were invited by Emerging Chefs and Arkinetics to attend this tour of Crop Bar and Bistro. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***