CLEVELAND (WJW) — Gabe Zeller and his wife, Julie Mesenburg, aren’t strangers to owning restaurants.
They’ve already opened and operate two in the Cleveland area: Char Whiskey Bar & Grille in Rocky River and Avo Modern Mexican in Ohio City.
But their latest project is truly the closest to their hearts: Indie East 4th, a restaurant that’s coming to the East Fourth Street Neighborhood.
“We’ve been working on this project for maybe four or five years,” said Zeller. “A love of music, a love of food. It just kind of came together with the Indie project.”
Indie is located in the former Greenhouse Tavern right next to the House of Blues. The soft opening for the music-themed restaurant is set for next weekend, and the grand opening is next month. Inside the building, things are already rocking and rolling.
They redid the bar area and replaced dining areas in the front of the restaurant with waiting areas. A second floor boasts even more seating and a view of East Fourth.
The decor is really what stands out.
“All of our music memorabilia is here on the walls,” he said.
Zeller has seen 500 to 600 concerts in past years, and of those, Mesenberg has seen 300 to 350. Zeller said there are close to 235 framed concert posters hanging on the walls. The two attended about 90 percent of the shows.
Many of the posters have special meaning. There’s a Dave Matthews Band poster for a concert they went to 11 years ago on their honeymoon. There’s a special area for Radiohead, which is Zeller’s favorite band, and an area for Nathanial Ratliff, who is Mesenburg’s favorite.
The two even commissioned a concert poster artist to design one, especially for Indie. Guests have access to a QR code that leads them to photos of all the posters. They can learn info like which year the show was held and the venue.
Many of the restaurants’ cocktails are also themed like the “Rebel, Rebel,” named after the song by David Bowie.
The food is not music-themed; it’s Southern-influenced and “very, very much comfort food,” said Zeller. The menu includes dishes like fried chicken, chicken and waffles, a seafood boil and a grilled lobster sandwich. There are also hush puppies and lots of desserts.
Still under construction is a rooftop bar with large TVs to watch sports games. The main theme for drinks up there, Zeller said, is frozen cocktails.
Also under construction is a speakeasy. The windows are tinted so customers can’t see in, but those in the speakeasy can see out. The speakeasy will focus more on tequila and bourbon. The speakeasy will have memberships; once members reserve their spots, the remaining will be open to the public.
While the restaurant isn’t a music venue, there will be plenty to do. They’ll launch a brunch menu and have regular specialty-themed grunge brunches on Saturdays. Sundays will feature brunches based on certain genres or artists.
Zeller said it’s been a long road to get to East Fourth, but the journey has meant a lot.
“For years, Julie asked me what I was going to do with these things,” he said of the posters. “I didn’t really know for a long time, and then this idea came about four years or so ago. It had to be in the right location, and we’re excited to be here on East Fourth next to the House of Blues with this concept.”
“There’s some of us…a lot of us in this being what it is,” he said.
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