Thursday, October 15, 2015

Arcadian Food & Drink, Hospitality by Design

History is replete with examples of structures that were worth the time it took to build them. The Taj Mahal … the Great Pyramid of Giza … Il Duomo di Milano … the Great Wall of China. These are a few of the many shining examples of structures that took years to construct and have endured the test of time.

Nailing the artistic, practical and structural components of a building requires time. Case in point: Arcadian Food & Drink, a 100-seat restaurant (plus seating in the back-patio courtyard) located at 6416 Detroit Avenue in the Gordon Square Arts District. The space, which formerly housed the City Grill, is currently undergoing a thorough restoration/redesign/repurpose by Robert Maschke Architects. Construction has been underway for over two years and counting, and you could hear a pin drop when I asked for a projected open date. The only other question that was met with the same silence was when asked who the investor/investors is/are, silent as the grave.

Arcadian Food & Drink, outdoor signage - Photo: Robert Maschke, FAIA

Arcadian Food & Drink, exterior - Photo: Mary Sweeney

After a recent tour of the location, it is my opinion that painstaking measures have been taken to create a restaurant worthy of nomination for a James Beard Foundation Restaurant Design Award. I know of no city where this structure wouldn’t be impressive. Frankly, Cleveland is incredibly fortunate to have Arcadian Food & Drink, dare I say it, months away from opening.

Steel, glass, concrete, bamboo, Corian and leather converge to lend a sleek modern sensibility.

Arcadian Food & Drink, screens - Photo: Robert Maschke FAIA

Arcadian Food & Drink, screens - Photo: Robert Maschke FAIA

"Rooted in modernism, Robert Maschke Architects (RMA) seeks to create an architecture of complex spatial effects within modest means. What distinguishes RMA is the ability to turn ordinary projects into exceptional architecture. RMA views project constraints as opportunities for design. Consequently, different version of "economy"  are conceptualized and implemented in RMA's work. Gestures, materials and atmospheres are investigated for essential qualities; techniques are developed and technologies deployed resulting in experimental architecture honed specifically for each project." Robert Maschke, FAIA 

When questioned further on the "within modest means" point, Maschke, responded: "The execution may appear extremely expensive but the approach was very resourceful and much less than one might expect." Even better.

While the design has mid-century modernist roots, we are jettisoned into the future by Maschke’s use of the latest green construction methods and concepts. The kitchen, bar, bathrooms and every inch of space is designed to consume the least amount of water, power and energy. The space is divided into zones for purposes of heating and cooling. Restaurants are notorious for hot and cold spots; designated zones will help to alleviate this problem. Logistics include a well-designed vestibule entrance with an angled, pitched ground, which allows water to drain. The windows in the three-story structure open inside to facilitate maintenance. Special care was taken to design return and make-up air passages in a way that will prevent the windows from fogging. The walls consist of custom-made bamboo panels in contrasting light tan and dark brown. Some of the new banquettes are already in place, as are two bar areas. There is a two-story glass enclosed atrium that will house seasonal displays all of it just months away from completion.

Arcadian Food & Drink, vestibule entrance - Photo: Robert Maschke FAIA

Arcadian Food & Drink, tan wall panel - Photo: Mary Sweeney

Arcadian Food & Drink, dark brown wall panel - Photo: Mary Sweeney

The biggest surprise upon entering Arcadian had little to do with the space. Standing next to Executive Chef Cory Hess was a familiar face, David Hridel, who was introduced to me as Arcadian's Front-of-House Manager (hardly a formal introduction). Hess  and Hridel discussed their roles and responsibilities. Hess will take on all the back-of-house responsibilities; Hridel will focus on running the dining areas. Hridel will assume both roles when Hess is offsite.

Arcadian Food & Drink, Cory Hess, Executive Chef and David Hridel, FOH Manager

Hess says, "Jeffrey Rowe will be Bar Manager, and George Hickey and Shawn Henton will be the Kitchen Managers. In addition to cocktails mixed with house-made juices and syrups, we plan to offer 12 draft beers, and four white and four red wines on-tap."  This is in keeping with their philosophy toward less waste / less bottles. 

The Menu features five “Detroit-style” pizzas. The “Plain Jane” offers the most flexibility, with a choice of tomato, garlic herb sauce and choice of cheese plus additional toppings: 
           • Cheeses: daiya mozzarella (v), fresh ricotta, brick, blue, smoked cheddar and parmesan. 
• Toppings: roasted garlic, olives, capers pickled peppers, red onion herbs, arugula, mushrooms, caramelized       onions and jalapeño peppers. 
• Proteins: bacon, pepperoni, sausage, anchovies and egg. 

If you’re not in the mood to build your own, Arcadian has designed four pizzas:
 Beef Carpaccio & Anchovies: roasted garlic, herbs, arugula, red onion, capers, aioli, egg, pickles. 
 Garlic & Herb Bread (v): roasted garlic, herbs, eve, Jacobson salt, crushed red pepper (w/marinara & garlic sauce).
 Sausage & Eggs: pickled peppers, potatoes caramelized onions, blue cheese. 
 Beets & Grapes (v): pepitas, honey, red onion, arugula, minus 8 vinegar.

Hess explains Detroit-style pizza as, "A standard lean dough, slow-fermented overnight, we then cook the pizza in pans brushed with a fat (olive oil). The result is a crispy, crunchy crust on the outside and tender inside. Toppings will be spread the entire surface of the pizza. You get bites of crispy, crunchy crust in every bite, unlike the traditional crust around the edges."

Arcadian will also offer a half-dozen cold plates, including a cheese selection (fresh ricotta, Wooster pike blue, kokoboreggo gilead and accouterments) and three salads: a seasonal salad (v,gf); a quinoa & millet salad (v,gf); a citrus salad (gf). They will also offer spicy carrot hummus (v,gf) and a crudite plate (v,gf).

Seafood selections will include raw oysters (gf), peel and eat shrimp (gf), candied salmon and smoked mussels.

There are plans for eight hot plates: tomato & turmeric soup (v,gf); cauliflower grilled cheese; fried taters (v,gf); steak-yum (v); fried chicken; Buffalo chicken grilled cheese; breakfast (local eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast, jelly, butter — also offered with a 14oz. cold-smoked ribeye option as an alternative to bacon). Sides include taters, corn muffins, slaw, soup and salad.

The menu I was given did not include prices, but Hess envisions a moderate price point that allows neighborhood residents an opportunity to enjoy Arcadian without breaking the bank.

"We have plenty of restaurants with good food in this town, but Arcadian is going to be the total experience … original in every way possible: design, food and drinks. We're in the hospitality business." Hess explains.

Arcadian Food & Drink, Cory Hess by his intelligent oven

Hridel could hardly contain his excitement, "I can't believe Cleveland is finally getting a place this f**king cool!"


Arcadian Food & Drink, David Hridel chilling out

Arcadian Food & Drink

6416 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102


  1. Great write up! Thanks so much for this detailed preview. Arcadian will be an instant success.

    1. Thank you, Erin. I agree on their guaranteed success. There are some incredible people behind the effort.