Shaker council OK’s start-up loan to Midnight Owl Brewing Co. in former Van Aken District bakery


SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — City Council has approved its half of an $80,000 Small Business Administration forgivable loan to assist a local craft brewery moving into the former Lucy’s Sweet Surrender bakery in Van Aken District South.

In all, Midnight Owl Brewing Company will invest over $1.4 million in a 10-barrel brewhouse and 84-seat restaurant, with plans to open in early 2023 alongside Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ, working toward opening this fall, sharing 7,000 square feet of space at 20312-14 Chagrin Blvd.

With five-to-seven full-time employees and four-to-seven part-timers expected to be hired, Midnight Owl will produce nearly $55,000 in projected local payroll taxes over five years, Senior Economic Development Specialist Katharyne Starinsky, told council Monday (May 23).

This well exceeds the requirements for the SBA Shaker Partnership Loan, launched jointly with Cuyahoga County in 2014, resulting in 12 projects totaling over $2.4 million in private investment leveraged by about $356,000 in forgivable loans — split 50-50 by the city and county ($178,000 apiece).

“The funds can be used to improve a commercial space and buy equipment but it cannot be used for inventory or payroll,” Starinsky noted in her May 17 memo to council.

In all, the city-county SBA program has resulted in $526,000 worth of local income tax withholdings for Shaker since its inception by helping to create 76 full-time and 145 part-time jobs.

“Additionally, this project is woman-owned, which supports the City’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals,” Starinsky noted.

Council passed the legislation Monday on first reading with an emergency clause to allow Midnight Owl to secure their project financing so that they can place equipment orders, which have a six-month lead time, she added.

Midnight Owl will produce mostly draft beer with more than 80 percent of beer expected to be sold on-site. Business hours will be Tuesday through Sunday, serving lunch and dinner, closing on Fridays and Saturdays by 11 p.m.

Last month, council authorized the city to act as a pass-through agency for a $350,000 loan to both new businesses from the state’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Authority to upgrade the former bakery and prior to that, Chandler & Rudd specialty grocers.

“Their tenant space will undergo extensive interior renovations,” Starinsky added. “Exterior building renovations will include a new storefront, signage and the addition of an outdoor patio.”

Starinsky and City Law Director William Ondrey Gruber also noted that both Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ and Midnight Owl received the required voter approval on May 3 to serve alcohol in what is otherwise a dry precinct, along with numerous other establishments that had to go on the ballot in the past as well.

1899 Golf

Elsewhere in the Van Aken District, council on Monday confirmed part of a conditional use permit — interior only at this point — for 1899 Golf to open a recreational bar and restaurant with nine golfing simulator bays this fall in the north end of the Shaker Plaza.

The still-occupied space has been home to Pearl Asian Kitchen for the past five years, although its predecessor, the original Pearl of the Orient restaurant, became a favorite in Shaker dating back to its opening in 1978.

The City’s Planning Commission gave its approval on the interior plans earlier this month, as well as a parking variance that could allow for outdoor putting greens, although those design plans are still pending.

Responding to a question from Vice Mayor Sean Malone, an 1899 Golf spokesman told council that the interior simulator walls provide full enclosure for swinging clubs and any ricocheting golf balls.

Those indoor simulators will also be “somewhat removed” from the actual restaurant, the spokesman added, while Mayor David Weiss said the Planning Commission has already received assurances there would be “no windmills” or other trademark miniature golf features installed on the proposed putting greens.

Tesla super-charger

Also in the Shaker Plaza, council on Monday granted a right-of-way license to Tesla to install an electric vehicle charging station in the lower level of the city parking lot, adjacent to the shopping center and the RTA Blue Line rapid terminal

This 12-stall “supercharger” will replace 15 parking spaces and will complement EV stations installed by the city and in the nearby Van Aken District parking garage.

Although the super-charger will only work on Teslas, state data shows that of the 98 EVs registered in Shaker, 68 of those are Tesla models, City Sustainability Coordinator Michael Peters noted in his May 23 memo to council.

“This location will establish the Van Aken District as a regional EV charging hub, benefiting city residents and businesses,” Peters said. “A supercharger location, which to date is rarely found away from an interstate highway (I-271 and I-480), will be an attraction for EV drivers who will then likely patronize the local businesses in Shaker Plaza and the Van Aken District.”

In addition to increasing accessibility and providing much faster charging times, Weiss, who received approval from council to enter into the licensing agreement, said there will be no cost to the city, and the Van Aken District will appear on all Tesla’s in-car maps.

Tesla will also consider adapting the superchargers so that other makes and models can eventually use them as well.

Peters noted that additional DC fast chargers, similar in capacity to the Tesla superchargers, are also scheduled to be installed through a Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) program on Tuttle Road later this year.

“These will be compatible with nearly all EVs and mitigates the concerns over the initial limited availability of the superchargers,” Peters added.

Liquor license

The city has also signed off on a liquor permit application for Paloma’s, a “taco concept” bar and restaurant going into the vacant commercial space at 20041 Walker Road in the Van Aken District, next to the pocket park.

Gruber told council there were no objections from any city departments for the license, which would allow spirituous liquor to be served until 2:30 a.m.

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