New Mexican restaurant opening

Mexican Restaurant Downtown Cleveland


The Snavely Group recently broke ground on the site for Nuevo, a two-story restaurant that will open next to Voinovich Park in July. The eatery is the first building in a much broader lakefront project being planned by Cumberland Development and the Trammell Crow Co. (Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

CLEVELAND, Ohio - An Akron-based restaurant will open a two-story eatery next to Voinovich Park in July, becoming the first tenant in the first phase of a much broader development planned for downtown Cleveland's lakefront.

Nuevo Modern Mexican and Tequila Bar just firmed up a deal with developer Dick Pace to occupy a visible site near the end of the East Ninth Street Pier. Already under construction, the restaurant could have its debut as event space during the Republican National Convention. It's not likely to be open for regular business until after convention-goers leave town.

Owners Zack and Lisa Hirt opened their Akron restaurant, on East Mill Street, nearly two years ago. Their Cleveland location will be similar, serving up Mexican-influenced fare and margaritas. The lakefront building's first floor will accommodate 140 diners inside and at least 40 outdoors. The second floor will function as catering and event space, with room for 250 people plus space for a few dozen more outside.

The restaurant is the first building in a 28-acre project planned by Pace's Cumberland Development and the Trammell Crow Co. of Dallas.

A rendering shows the planned restaurant, near the northern end of the East Ninth Street Pier in downtown Cleveland.Dimit Architects LLC

Construction on a four-story apartment-and-retail building near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum could start in the summer, after the convention ends July 21.

Later, larger phases of the plan involve a hotel and shopping, also near the Rock Hall and Great Lakes Science Center, along with offices and more than 1, 000 apartments on land north and east of FirstEnergy Stadium.

"It's such a beautiful project, " Zack Hirt said. "Those guys have been so nice to us, and so generous. We wanted to work with them right off the bat. When we saw the actual location, we thought 'We have the best view in Akron. Let's have the best view in Cleveland.'"

Pace received city design approvals for the restaurant last year, but it took longer than he expected to announce an operator.

He described Nuevo as a family-friendly option, much more restaurant than bar, with prices that will make it accessible to a broad audience. At the Akron location, lunch options range from $5 to $14. The dinner menu includes $13 tacos and tops out at a $28 Chilean sea bass entree.

"We've had a lot of interest from national chains, " Pace said. "We really didn't want to go that direction. We wanted to go local. Some of the operators that we started out with are really good operators, but they just weren't the right fit for the site. In essence, this is the restaurant on the park. It's like Tavern on the Green at Central Park. You're not going to put up a McDonald's there."

Snavely Group, the design-builder for the project, broke ground within the last few weeks. Pace expects to revisit a city design-review committee and the Cleveland City Planning Commission in February to seek approvals for the restaurant's signs and, if necessary, for small modifications to the building's floor plan.

The first phase of the lakefront project also includes public restrooms, tacked onto the northern side of the restaurant, and three sand-volleyball courts that could transform into a skating area during the winter.

The city owns the lakefront land and is entering long-term leases with the developers as pieces of the project come together. Trammell Crow and Cumberland still are working through their plans for later phases of construction.



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