CLEVELAND (WJW) – Gabe Zeller and his wife Julie Meisenberg are no strangers to owning restaurants.
They have already opened and operated two in the Cleveland area: Char Whiskey Bar & Grille in Rocky River and Avo Modern Mexican in Ohio City.
But their latest project is really closest to their hearts: Indie East 4th, an upcoming restaurant in the East Four Street neighborhood.
“We’ve been working on this project for maybe four or five years,” Zeller said. “Love of music, love of food. It kind of merged with the Indie project.”
The Indie is located in the former Greenhouse Tavern right next door to the House of Blues. The soft opening of the music-themed restaurant is scheduled for next weekend, and the grand opening next month. Inside the building, things are already swinging and rolling.
They renovated the bar area and replaced the dining areas at the front of the restaurant with waiting areas. The second floor has more seating and a view of the fourth east.
The decor is really what stands out.
“All of our music memorabilia is right here on the walls,” he said.
Zeller has seen 500 to 600 concerts in the past years, of which 300 to 350 are in Mesenberg. There are approximately 235 framed music posters hanging on the walls, Zeller said. The two attended about 90 percent of the shows.
Many stickers have a special meaning. There’s a Dave Matthews band poster of a party they went to 11 years ago on their honeymoon. There is a special area for Radiohead, which is Zeller’s band favourite, and a special area for Nathanial Ratliff, who is a Mesenburg favourite.
The two commissioned a poster artist for the party to design one, especially for Indie. Guests have access to a QR code that leads them to the images of all the stickers. They can learn information such as the year the show was held and where it was held.
Many restaurant cocktails are also themed, such as “Rebel, Rebel,” named after David Bowie’s song.
Food is not music. He’s Southern influenced and “very comfort food,” Zeller said. The menu includes dishes such as fried chicken, chicken and waffles, boiled seafood, and grilled lobster sandwich. There are also small dogs and many treats.
A rooftop bar is still under construction with large TVs for watching sports. The main theme of drinks there, Zeller said, is frozen cocktails.
Also under construction is the talk. The windows are tinted so that customers cannot see inside, but those who are talking can see outside. The talk will focus more on tequila and bourbon. Speakeasy will have memberships; Once members reserve their locations, the rest will be open to the public.
While the restaurant is not a music venue, there will be plenty to do. They will launch a brunch menu and have regular grunge-themed brunch on Saturdays. Sundays will feature brunch based on specific genres or artists.
Getting to the East Forth was a long way, Zeller said, but the trip meant a lot.
“For years, Julie has asked me what I would do with these things,” he said of the labels. “I didn’t really know for a long time, and then this idea came about about four or so years ago. It had to be in the right location, and we’re excited to be here in the East Fourth next to House of Blues with this concept.”
“There are some of us…a lot of us in this situation as is,” he said.