After a solid week of TPS reports, corporate jargon, time clocks and uncomfortable office footwear, the weekend beckons for juicy storylines with complicated characters - an escape from reality.
Put down the device, though. It's time to travel to a neighborhood on the edge - of a bluff, that is - overlooking Downtown Cleveland. It's got juice. And, lined with restaurants, shops, galleries and stunning architecture, Tremont is loaded with character.
It Takes A Village
As a matter of fact, Tremont is a mash up of storylines that reflect 200 years of Cleveland history in its colorful bones.
Affluent New England settlers were the first to build its gorgeous Victorian homes known for gables, bay windows, contrasting trim and wrap-around porches. The short-lived Cleveland University inspired enduring street names, like Literary Lane and Professor Avenue.
As Cleveland industrialized, though, immigrants from over 30 countries rolled up their sleeves, raised their families and worked in Cleveland steel mills. This is the generation that built the social clubs, cathedrals and churches that they missed from their homelands.
Of course, Tremont weathered its share of unemployment, political conflict and bad boy bootleggers who spent Prohibition ducking the law in "Duck Island," located at the edge of the neighborhood.
But families knew how to lean on each other. That might be why the first buildings you'll see, above the 30-foot trees around Lincoln Park, are churches. Not a church every mile, but one every block, for every nationality and of every faith - 24 in all. Some churches have since been renovated into creative workspaces, which is equally good for the soul.
Artists played a crucial role in the latest revitalization of Tremont during the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Painters, sculptors and musicians moved into Tremont's affordable homes to live, work and play.
The first Tremont Art Walk was launched in 1993 and is still going strong. Now called Walkabout Tremont, the event invites visitors to tour art galleries, restaurants and shops on the second weekend every month.
Head up and down the zig-zagging streets and you'll find dozens of little galleries popping up in between restaurants and homes, like Calicchia Studio and Doubting Thomas Gallery. In between those are cute boutiques like Banyan Tree and Evie Lou.
Also during Tremont's revitalization in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, the neighborhood began attracting some of the country's crème-de-la-crème chefs who'd cooked all over the world (most of whom hailed from Northeast Ohio) to set up fine dining establishments. After all, it was far less risky to open a restaurant in Cleveland, rather than places like Los Angeles or New York City.
The payoff? Cleveland became an award-winning culinary city. In fact, some of Tremont's first chefs, such as Zack Bruell (Parallax), Rocco Whalen (Fahrenheit) and Dante Boccuzzi (DANTE), still maintain a presence in the neighborhood today.
Dine As You Are
This neighborhood is often favorited because of this incredible culinary scene. Yet, despite the incredible food, Tremont is still a come-as-you-are kind of destination.
Just like the community, the very businesses that occupy Tremont offer complexity and diversity. For breakfast, it's Grumpy's with fluffy pumpkin pancakes and straight-from-the-griddle dishes.
An afternoon pick-me-up coffee, bakery and unique shopping is ready for you at Civilization, Loop and Beviamo Café. Or, grab some craft bbq (even vegetarian) and craft cocktails at Proof, then climb the stairs to Visible Voice bookstore and wine bar, with its calendar of live music, poetry readings and discussions.
Nearly all of Tremont's eateries offer outdoor patios and craft beers. Prosperity Social Club is no exception. This old-school, working man's bar has become a neighborhood darling that's brimming with kitsch Americana décor, a great jukebox, Cleveland-style food and a special kind of loyalty from its patrons. The patio at The Treehouse showcases live music, while the inside is anchored by - you guessed it - a huge tree.
And, for late night, it's all about pepperoni pizza perfection (with honey...seriously) at Edison's.
Welcome to Tremont
Tremont is a 19th century neighborhood with 20th century buildings serving 21st century works of art and cuisine. Its architectural details will pull your eyes up off street level to the gothic arch windows, door openings, brick and stone construction, decorative panels and plaques above. The streets are also lined with welcoming trees, carved restaurant signs, murals and rainbow flags. It's simply begging to tell its story.
After all, you can download a great story, or you can live it. Scope an interactive map of Tremont here.