The Standard aims for excellence on East 185th Street
While some establishments are boarding up and leaving East 185th Street, business partners Chris Hammer and Matt Quinn are moving back into the neighborhood.
Their new bar/restaurant The Standard is the former Harland Pub. The building is owned by Quinn, who operated the bar Quinn's in the same location for 12 years.
Hammer and Quinn spent 11 months renovating the building and stripping it down to its original brick and hardwood floors. Chandeliers and upscale place settings have replaced neon bar signs and posters. The kitchen is visible to patrons and the selections of wines, liquors and beers are top shelf.
There is no doubt, Hammer and Quinn have set a high standard for themselves with their new business, which has a Cleveland address and is on the Euclid border.
They also own Paragon, a bar/restaurant, on Lake Shore Boulevard in Euclid.
"Matt and I wanted something positive for the community," Hammer said. "We didn't want to have another shot-and-beer guy come in here and let the neighborhood deteriorate.
"Not to say the neighborhood is deteriorating with places like Bistro 185, Muldoon's, Scotti's and Chili Peppers in it. These people have made a vested interest in the community. We all love the community, we love the people in the community and we want to see the community thrive."
Clay Kosokar, Muldoon's general manager for the past 15 years, welcomes the new business, even though it's competition.
"It's going to bring more people to the area," he said.
"Since The Standard opened last week and with the holidays here, we've had the best week we've had in six months."
Kosokar said it helps to have a little luck, the right location and the right staff to run a successful business on East 185th. Muldoon's, which is owned by Billy Dagg, has been open since 1980.
"The trend I see is people are too darn busy to eat at home," Kosokar said.
"They want to go to a neighborhood place, not a chain like Olive Garden or Red Lobster. People just don't see the value there."
Hamm and Quinn are confident their patrons will see the value in their menu, which was designed by chef Tim Bando, who previously worked with Michael Symon and former Browns owner Al Lerner.
Menu items include oysters, chicken paprikash and spiced lamb meatballs.
"We have small hot and cold plates that are meant for sharing," Bando said. "You don't have to commit to one entrée. You can try a variety of plates."
With meals meant for sharing, fine wine and classic cocktails, Hammer and Quinn hope their new business is as successful as Paragon, the former Quinn's on Lake Shore which was owned by Quinn's father Mike Sr. for three decades.
"I think a trendy restaurant will help jump start East 185th," Quinn said. "Our thought was, you build it and they will come. It's the same concept as Paragon. We treat you like family. You come back for the experience."
Quinn feels comfortable in the neighborhood not only because he owned a business there in the past, but also because his alma mater Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School is at the top of East 185th near Lake Erie. Quinn attended the school and graduated in 1988 when it was St. Joseph, an all boys school.
"I learned my hard work ethic from my heroes at St. Joe's," said Quinn, who wrestled in high school. "People like Bill Gutbrod, John Storey, Mike Guilfoyle, Tim Robertson, Mike Moran and Kerry Volkmann, they were my inspiration. The list goes on and on. It means a lot to me to come back here."
It appears it also means a lot to the community to have a new standard on East 185th, which has been transformed into a speakeasy right out of the 1940s when the neighborhood once thrived with no boarded-up businesses.
©2013 The News-Herald (Willoughby, Ohio)
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