Take it to the Bank
Beautiful old banks repurposed for stunning business settings
By Nicole Canitano
Hey Cleveland—Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is? No, for real. We've gotten pretty good around here at breathing new life into old spaces. And turning historic bank buildings into restaurants is no exception to this (ledger) rule.
Crop Bistro and Bar
Just a dime's throw from the West Side Market in Ohio City, is Crop Bistro and Bar. Two of Cleveland's most famous architects, Frank Walker and Harry Weeks, are behind the blueprints of the United Bank Building. The vast, open dining space is breathtaking with its marble columns, 35-foot ceilings and murals. For those looking for a more "intimate" setting, the bank's vault, at one time the largest between New York City and Chicago, can be reserved for private events.
"On the Money" Menu Selection: The Cherry Bomb appetizer—a house-made pork chorizo filled tomato served with a roasted corn sauce
Iconic Cleveland chef Dante Boccuzzi opened this Tremont gem as his flagship restaurant in 2009. The space on Professor Ave. was originally occupied by Lincoln Heights Savings and Loan. Dante added his own flavor, not only to the modern Italian and Mediterranean menu, but to the ambiance, as well. Contemporary art and shout-outs to Cleveland's industrial and musical roots can be found sprinkled among the original fixtures and classic architecture. One of the richest ways to experience Dante is through its popular tasting menu. Options include "The Reverse," where your meal begins with dessert; a customized vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free sampling; and the more indulgent seven-course menu, paired with perfectly accompanied wines.
"On the Money" Menu Selection: Linguine Alla Carbonara—handmade pasta topped with poached egg, pancetta and truffle oil
Touch Supper Club
Touch Supper Club is a bar-eatery-nightclub that calls a 1920s bank building its home. Dance the night away in the basement club, gawk at the giant working vault doors, or get down to serious eating business in the former bank manager's office, where patrons can dine. Pro tip: Sunday brunch is amazing. The menu ranges from Chicken and Waffles to Fruity Pebble Pancakes, and wash it all down with one of the best Bloody Mary bars in town.
"On the Money" Menu Selection: Grilled Cheese—Turano bread, Gruyere cheese, tomato basil bisque, Belgian frites. For extra pizazz, get the triple-stack with smoked mozzarella or add coppa (dried cured pork loin), tomato or carmelized onion.
Luxe Kitchen & Lounge
It might be hard to picture this funky Detroit-Shoreway hotspot as an old-timey bank, but Luxe still flaunts its circa-1925 vault—which now holds booze instead of bank notes. The patio is the perfect place to kick back and listen to DJs spinning tunes while sipping on experimental cocktails.
"On the Money" Menu Selection: Chardonnay Grilled Fig Salad—Cashel bleu, salted walnuts, mix greens, orange blossom honey dressing
Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar
The most recently opened restaurant in this collection gives new meaning to the term "cash cow." Known for their finest cuts of beef, Marble Room Steak and Raw Bar joins an elite group of Downtown steakhouses. If you prefer noshing on things that swim instead, be sure to cash in on Marble Room's plentiful raw bar, sushi and shellfish offerings. Marble has taken over the former opulent lobby of National City Bank in the historic Garfield Building at Euclid Ave. and East 6th St. Guests can choose to dine in the grandiose 10,000 square foot dining room, a private booth tucked in between original marble columns or at a high-top repurposed from original deposit slip tables in the bar area.
"On the Money" Menu Selection: Daily selection of Atlantic and Pacific oysters or the Miyazaki Kobe Strip Loin, cooked table side
Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
Speaking of elite Downtown steakhouses, Hyde Park is also on the list, using the vaults of its 1931 Midland Bank building for an exclusive dining area. Built by the famous Van Sweringen Brothers, the vaults create an intimate, sophisticated atmosphere, which just so happens to go perfectly with aged prime steak and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
"On the Money" Menu Selection: Steak a la Lobster—A filet mignon over bordelaise crowned with
lobster and béarnaise, asparagus, sliced mushroom
Vault at the 9
Legend has it that construction crews working to renovate the old Cleveland Trust accidentally discovered the door to the spacious multi-room vault behind a brick facade. It has since been converted into one of Cleveland's most upscale lounges, known for its handcrafted cocktails and small plates. Treasure for yourself one of these drinks, whose names pay homage to a time when the vault housed Clevelanders' most prized possessions.
"On the Money" Menu Selection: Millionaire’s Row—Green spot, chartreuse, ginger beer, lemon, lime, egg white, apple cider, chili powder, rosemary
Downtown Heinen's in the Rotunda
Waiting for your next paycheck to eat out again? Head to Euclid Ave. and East 9th St., where local boys Tom and Jeff Heinen partnered with developer Geis Cos. to convert the Ameritrust Lobby Rotunda into the most beautiful space in which to stock up on kitchen staples. Nibble on a made-to-order meal at one of the cafe tables and find yourself among fellow Clevelanders hustling and bustling over original marble tiles and under gilded arches three stories above. Before heading home, swing up to the second floor balcony and sip on a glass of wine while gazing at the majestic murals that surround you.
Ariel Pearl Center
If you're looking for a place to throw a classy shindig, look no further than the Ariel Pearl Center in Old Brooklyn. The former 1923 Pearl Street Savings and Trust Bank was beautifully renovated into an events center with marble columns and floors, bank vaults, stone walls, arched windows and a gorgeous plasterwork ceiling with crystal chandeliers. The space includes a Grand Hall with a rotunda and vault, a cocktail/ceremony room, and a fireplace room. Seating capacity of the main Grand Hall is approximately 280 without a dance floor, and 230 with a dance floor.
The 925 Building
On Euclid Ave., the 925 Building, formerly the Huntington Building and the Union Trust Building before that, is undergoing renovations. Originally opened in 1924, it contained the largest banking room in the world at the time of its completion. The plan is for it to be a mixed-use development with a hotel, apartments, a fitness club and retail and office space. The grand lobby, with its high ceilings and marble detail, will be a social and business event space.
Collinwood's Waterloo Arts District is exactly the place this building needs to be. A former Key Bank building built in the 1920s has been transformed into a technicolorful masterpiece by East London-based Camille Walala, and will be known as Pop Life. The exterior of the building is so bright, eccentric and beautiful that it was recognized in British architecture and design magazine, Icon. Inside, the plan is to house Cleveland-based Jack Mueller's Pop Life gallery, a donation-based yoga studio and a juice bar.
So, what are you waiting for? Give yourself the gift of bankers' hours today and get out and explore these local treasures.