Thursday, July 2, 2009

Proper Noun of the Week #1: Frank Revy

As I've been promising for a long time now, in an effort to give shout-outs to interesting people doing interesting things around Cleveland, I wanted to start a Proper Noun of the Week column. It took a while to clear some time and a while longer to figure out how I wanted to do it, but the time was found and the figuring done, and here were are with the inaugural "Proper Noun of the Week" posting.

I couldn't think of a better person to start with, either. As I've become more and more of a Waterloo Road regular, I've heard a number of commercial and lifestyle testimonials about why yet another person has decided to take the plunge and relocate life and/or trade to the neighborhood.

As owner of the recently opened Waterloo Cafe (effective June 27, though they've been serving excellence as part of a soft opening for a few weeks longer) Frank Revy is a perfect example of a person who saw hope and opportunity in the North Collinwood area. Coupled with his love for the city, his previous experience, and the empty space in the former Cafe Marika location, Frank decided to put his money where his heart was. I for one am glad he did. (And so will you be, once you get in their and have one of their signature cookies or a chicken pita melt.)

From now on, as these posts go forward they will follow the same format, almost identically. By getting different answers to these same questions, over and over again, we should start to get a picture of what the grass-roots movers and shakers in the new Cleveland think about the city, what they need to keep moving and shaking, and what they all have in common. So, without further ado, let's get to the substance of this post.

1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?

Frank: All my life, 39 years today, actually. (Note: Today is Frank's birthday - stop in and buy yourself a beer to celebrate!)

2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?

Frank: I got so many, but probably my favorite one is the 1986 Browns-Jets game. I was sitting in the Dawg Pound, and when the team came back and Mark Mosely kicked that field goal, it was such an awesome experience. I was 16 at the time.

Another one was at the Euclid Tavern, at a Laughing Hyenas show in 1993. My youngest one was visiting my father at the Colonial Arcade, where he used to work, back in like 1975, when the downtown area was still kicking. Those are some great, vivid memories I have. Man, so many are coming back to me now, it isn't fair to ask for just one!

3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work as a small business over?

Frank: It completely influences it. I could open this place anywhere else, but the fact that there is nothing like this in North Collinwood, or even in Cleveland. This lets me open a completely unique establishment.

4) What would be your ideal Cleveland day? Or, to put it another way, if it was your birthday and your nearest and dearest were all willing to do what you wanted, what would your day be like?

Frank: To be ironic, I'll say I'll work at the cafe, since today is my birthday and that's what I'm doing.

5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?

Frank: Oh crap, there are so many places. Let me think... It depends on the friend, but say it is a college buddy. I'm thinking of one guy in particular, a guy I call Jersey because he lives in Jersey, and he calls me Cleveland because I live here.

Places we'd definitely go to would be Great Lakes, the Grog Shop, the Beachland, Waterloo Cafe obviously. There'd be lots of beer drinking, lots of pirogies, lots of sausage, lots of live music. I'd take him on a drive downtown, show him my favorite spots, the secret places I shoot photographs, places like St Emeric's Church.

That's just a general overview, but at the day we'd be exhausted. It'd be a freakin' blast, like a high-octane Lolly the Trolley tour.

6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?

Frank: I wish I could import the cosmopolitan energy of Chicago, New York, Budapest. There needs to be more of a cosmopolitan energy flow. We have people here who are aware - it is just that we have to bring it together, not have it in pockets. We could be like a mini-Chicago, a mini-New York - half of each since we are right in between - quite easily.

7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commissioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?

Frank: With all these secret meetings and "study groups" and commissions drawing up plans for the city and then holding 2 hour meetings to inform the public of what is going to be done. No politician here seems to engage the people, there is no grass roots movement. So if I had the ear of the mayor or one of these other leaders, I'd tell them to engage the community, to have a people-based movement. Every single city that is truly vibrant engages the people fully in the political process.


To meet Frank and check the cafe out for yourself, stop in, grab a seat in the ever-evolving VIP section, and order a coffee or a drink. Or, if you want both, try their newest creation, the Chocolate Phoenix Rising. The joint is located at 15601 Waterloo Road in North Collinwood, just down the block from the Beachland Ballroom and right next door to Arts Collinwood. Check out the 'Loo's site here.

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