It’s all new, and I love it. What am I referring to, you might ask? Why the sparkly, brand new Flats East Bank. While phase one included the Ernst & Young Building, Aloft Hotel, Willeyville, along with several other establishments, phase two encompassed the Flats East Bank apartment building and a healthy helping of new restaurants and bars. With phase two wrapping up, we now have access to more than 10 new locations for our dining and drinking pleasure.
My favorite addition to the area is the extended boardwalk that hugs the Cuyahoga River. I walk down there almost daily. It is refreshing to see so such growth in an area that had been abandoned for so long. I feel like I’ve stepped out of Cleveland the moment I walk into the “new” Flats, and into a thriving city. While Cleveland has a fantastic selection of neighborhoods, like Tremont and Ohio City, they are all renovated areas (which have their own special charm and I wouldn’t change for anything). The Flats provides an entirely different vibe, with a modern design and fantastic location.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was officially held on Thursday, but restaurants and bars like Alley Cat, Crop Rocks and The Big Bang Piano Bar have been open for over a month. Punch Bowl Social opened even more recently and Beerhead Brewery debuted this week. I’ve yet to sample them all, but I’ve stopped in at a few of the establishments and here are some of my initial thoughts.
I love dueling piano bars and The Big Bang doesn’t disappoint in the entertainment department. I’m not yet sold on the expensive cost to reserve a table though. I’ve sampled the tuna melt at Crop Rocks and would definitely be back there again for a casual night out on the town. FWD left a sour taste in my mouth after not letting a friend in and charging expensive covers, but I guess it’s not meant to be for everyone. Punch Bowl Social reminds me of a cozy mountain lodge, with a mix of Town Hall and Market Garden and games. Alley Cat is next on my list, so a more formal review to follow.
While we bask in the excitement of all the newest additions to the Flats, let’s not forget about the phase one restaurants and bars that helped kick off this resurgence of the iconic Flats district – and the fact that there is still a phase three in the works!