Take a bit of culture from Cleveland – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a vibrant theater scene and pro sports, for example – and mix with favorite Eastern European family recipes, and you have the makings of a new restaurant, Cleveland Kitchen.
Owners Steve and Cindy Novak are in the home stretch for an April opening of Cleveland Kitchen at 2539 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., next to The Granary, and just south of Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware.
Food, service and ambiance are the keys to success for any restaurant, they say.
“We want to be the best mom and pop on the block. We’re having a good time,” Cindy Novak said of several years of planning that have gone into Cleveland Kitchen, including finding a location, planning the menu and repurposing salvaged items from the Bradenton-Sarasota area that will become part of the restaurant’s decor.
Steve Novak has more than 30 years experience in the restaurant business in Ohio, including at McGarvey’s in Vermillion and Mr. Z’s in Cleveland, and serving as the grand-opening manager for The Club Lounge at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians.
When we were dating, Steve dropped off some chicken paprikas for me on his way to work. I told him that it was better than a dozen red roses and I love roses.
The Novaks also managed and marketed Bearden’s of Rocky River in Cleveland, and owned On the Way Cafe for 10 years.
Now residents of Lakewood Ranch with their two children, they have a photo that explains how they ended up in Florida. It shows their snow-encrusted car with Anna Maria Island and Lakewood Ranch decals on the back.
“We love Anna Maria Island and the whole area,” Steve Novak said.
They are eager to share some of their favorite recipes when Cleveland Kitchen opens, including Rice Sausage; a Taste of Cleveland, a sampler plate of comfort food; Chicken Paprika, Classic Meatloaf; Stuffed Cabbage Roll and more.
“When we were dating, Steve dropped off some chicken paprikas for me on his way to work. I told him that it was better than a dozen red roses and I love roses,” Cindy Novak said.
The Novaks will draw from a number of suppliers, including local fruit and vegetable growers, Geier’s Sausage Kitchen in Sarasota, Beagle Bay Organics in Bradenton, the Naughty Monk Brewery for the beer ingredient in its stew, as well as food sources in Cleveland.
Cindy Novak says Cleveland Kitchen will have a vintage-modern look with the repurposed salvage pieces, restored theater seats, music posters and Cleveland sports memorabilia.
The 3,000-square-foot space will seat 80, and include booths along the wall and tables in the center.
Starting this week, workers will be framing the inside of the restaurant and the Novaks will start hiring for all positions.
“We are going to be here every day,” she said of the drive to get the restaurant open.
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For more information about Cleveland Restaurant, visit their Facebook page.