CLEVELAND, Ohio – All Sam McNulty and his business associates want you to see is the bright side of life.
In fact, they want more. They want you to order a few drinks, grab a bite and hang out.
If you’ve ever been to Bier Markt-Bar Cento on West 25th Street, you won’t recognize Bright Side, the restaurant and bar that McNulty and Co. opened in the same space. The wall of vertical windows lets in natural light and follows a bit of a feng shui architectural approach that says not to open directly into a space itself but rather to one side, McNulty said.
McNulty’s goal was to open Bright Side within 90 days of closing the space until it was fully renovated and reborn. He was near; this week marked 109 days until a soft opening unveiled the surroundings. It took constant construction, almost around the clock, to get the job done.
“It was a long time coming,” he said at the space’s grand opening on Thursday night. “We didn’t quite make it.”
The basement – formerly Speakeasy – will open as the Bird of Paradise in two weeks.
Bright Side is an energetic and airy space, with a cocktail bar vibe that spans 6,400 square feet of space. Three TVs hang on either side of the bar, which sits in the middle as a focal point, with tables along the wall and an open kitchen in the back. Bird of Paradise covers 5,000 square feet.
In the weeks leading up to the opening, McNulty said countless people stared out of windows at night hoping to get in. Now that the doors are officially open, people will see an array of tasteful colors and neat design touches. Marketing guru Ciara Ahern is responsible.
McNulty sought advice from Ahern here and there, starting with the website work. Ahern, a creative soul who launched the agency Sixth element, named the place. She jumped into designing the cocktail program. You like wine; why don’t you work on that too? McNulty asked.
Pretty soon, the snowball got bigger, the restaurant planning dominoes fell, and before Ahern knew it, she found deals on decorating.
“She saved $8,000 on the gold tiles,” McNulty said of the stylish tiles that brighten up the space under the bar top. “She said, ‘Give me a thumbs up’ and I took a mile.”
“I literally put hundreds of hours of work into it,” she says, “but it’s the most valuable thing, to have that confidence. Being told I have a blank canvas – yes, that was really exciting.
Mark Premier was also taking advantage of the space last night. He and McNulty have been business partners for two decades.
“Our journey to Ohio City started in 2002,” he said. “It’s incredible.”
Bier Markt opened in 2005. Market Garden Brewery opened across the street in 2011, Nano Brew followed a year later a few doors down. Combined, the spaces created a brewing-culinary “campus” that would make a monopoly in, well, Monopoly. Instead of little plastic houses, they could use tiny pints of beer.
Nice, the Prime Minister said, “was an opportunity to do something a little different”.
Steve Schimoler and Andrew Bower are the project’s lead partners.
For his part, McNulty worked tirelessly on the project, eager to open it. Now the time has come.
“I feel like I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight,” he said.
If you are going to
The bright side is at 1948 W. 25th St. in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland. Opening hours: 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Food will be served until midnight. Parking: Street and huge lot behind West Side Market.
I am on cleveland.comfrom the Life and Culture team and covers topics related to food, beer, wine and sport. If you want to see my stories, here is a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I usually talk food and drink at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. Twitter: @mbona30.
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