Issue: July/August 2013
The Downtown Cleveland Alliance boosts entrepreneurs with a grant program aimed at resuscitating retail.
Joe Marinucci has a vision for making retail work in downtown Cleveland. With 1,000 additional residential units set to open within the next six months, the president of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance partnered with Cumberland Development and Charter One Bank to hold a competition offering potential retailers grant money to open or expand inside the 5th Street Arcades. “Going forward,” Marinucci says, “we need to build on the Cleveland-based entrepreneur.” Here’s a look at the four businesses the program recently backed.
⊲ Bright Green Gift Store
The organic shop features products from local artisans such as Chagrin Falls’ Storehouse Tea Co. and Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. Background: In 1996, Mary Ferrell created Cherub’s Blanket, an organic bedding and clothing line for babies. With a successful online store, she quit her job as a financial planner two years ago to make the business a full-time pursuit, opening a storefront this spring. “Your friends, neighbors and fellow Clevelanders are making a living from these organic products,” Ferrell says. “They’re all here, but there wasn’t a showroom for them until now.” Marinucci Says:
“The millennial generation is very in tune with organic themes and Bright Green will highlight them.”
⊲ Soulcraft Gallery
Peter Debelak’s furniture boutique will sell his designs as well as those of more than a dozen others, many of which use recycled or reclaimed materials. Background: Debelak fell in love with wood as an art form while working construction during summers as a law school student at The Ohio State University. It turned into a 15-year furniture-making hobby, and in 2009 he took the plunge into full-time furniture making with Soulcraft Woodshop. “We hope the retail space is not just a stand-alone, but the beginning of a growth industry,” he says. Marinucci Says:
“Soulcraft provides furniture and unique designs that will provide people moving downtown with options that will fit their professional lifestyle.”
⊲ Sushi 86
This restaurant, already operating in 5th Street Arcades, offers Japanese cuisine, sushi classes and catering for private parties and meetings. Background: Rachel Hsu and her husband began Sushi 86 with her father in 2000 on Public Square. Their 5th Street Arcade location is expanding to include more space for sushi classes, which were popular but interfered with business. The expansion will seat an additional 50 people. “We want people to come experience Cleveland with our sushi class and promote downtown,” she says. Marinucci says:
“We wanted to expand Sushi 86’s footprint and event space. It will allow them to do an educational and culinary program.”
⊲ Pour Cleveland
Charlie Eisenstat’s made-by-the-cup coffeehouse will feature individually tailored brews using local and seasonal ingredients ranging from strawberries to corn. Background: During law school in Washington, D.C., Eisenstat spent most of his time studying in coffee shops where he chatted-up baristas. “Looking back, I was studying the coffee more than what I came there to learn,” he says. Eisenstat eventually abandoned law to start a new brand of coffee shop for downtown Cleveland. Baristas weigh out and grind different types of beans right after a customer places an order, brewing one cup at a time. Marinucci Says:
“Pour’s handcrafted coffee specialties will provide a great alternative to Starbucks and other cookie-cutter shops already in the area.”
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