Brewing up something new in The Flats

Ambitious trailblazer, Chef Zack Bruell is taking on two new projects much different than his previous endeavors. The restaurateur is entering into the brewery business, launching a new brew pub in the old Cleveland landmark, The Watermark, on the East Bank of the Flats, just a stone’s throw from his oyster bar, Alley Cat.
The name is TBD, but the establishment will have instant street cred, thanks to his partner on the project, Luke Purcell. The Great Lakes Brewing Company veteran is leaving the Godfather of the local brewing industry after more than 20 years for the chance to brew out of his comfort zone.

Source: Facebook

Bruell is also bringing his son, Julian into the mix in Cleveland. But this is by no means a passing of the baton, or changing of the guard. And Bruell tells me this is not the beginning of a succession plan. The chef tells me his son can teach him things about the front of the house that will help elevate the service and overall experience at all of his restaurants. Most recently, the younger Bruell has worked as the General Manager at Sauvage, and the service manager at Jean George’s in New York City, places with multiple Michelin stars.
Chef Bruell says after handling the tough crowd of NYC diners, his son is fully prepared for his role in Cleveland. He also admits, it was hard for him to accept and understand that service is more important than the food itself. But he now believes that it is. Bruell tells me he’ll put his food up against anybody’s in the country. This move, he says, will help take the restaurant group to the next level.
For starters, 27 year old Julian will be spending a month at a time at each of Bruell’s properties (Parallax, Chinato, Cowell& Hubbard, Table 45, Alley Cat Oyster Bar, L’Albatros Brasserie) to assess and raise the service and front of the house. The elder Bruell expects his son, a millennial, to relate to staff better than he can, and in turn, help recruit, train and retain good talent. That’s something he and almost every other chef in the city has been struggling with during Cleveland’s restaurant boom.
Then, the younger Bruell will contribute to the new brew pub. Chef says he doesn’t profess to be a beer person. For that, he’ll lean on Purcell.

Purcell, right, will join Bruell in his new brew pub business.  Source: Facebook

What’s really interesting about this partnership is that traditionally a brew pub’s menu is developed to compliment the beer. But this time, Zack tells me, they’ll be developing beer varieties to compliment and cut through the richness of his food, much like wine usually does.
Purcell tells me he is looking forward to thinking in reverse. He expects to be working on wheat varieties with more of a tart finish, and some sours, very on trend now, to provide the acidity his partner is looking for.
Right now they are shooting for an April opening, which would require them to start brewing come February. Purcell knows it’s an aggressive schedule, but he is excited and eager to work on something so different. The Watermark is being gutted as we speak. Can’t wait to see what they brew up.

More beer, please. Market Garden Brewery taking it to the next level.

There’s something pretty exciting brewing in Ohio City.  The craft beer industry is booming in Cleveland and the brew masters and business leaders behind Market Garden Brewery are striking while the iron is hot…and the beer is cold!


There is a major expansion underway behind W. 25th Street.  Market Garden Brewery is turning their already impressive output into a potential powerhouse.  They’ve already installed seven 70 barrel fermenting tanks. How much beer is that?  (hint: 1 barrel=31 gallons)  That’s a lot of brewski!


The ownership is growing from a single restaurant’s worth of brew, to a full scale production facility with plans for kegging and bottling their beers.  They’re also working tours, tasting and retail space in to their plans.


MGB is renovating 5 old buildings behind the W. 25th Street block they already occupy, next to the back parking lot of the West Side Market.  It used to be a city block’s worth of houses.  Most recently it was a warehouse.  But when this project is all said and done, it will be an operation with the capacity for 80,000 barrels of beer.  Yowza.


The creative and careful ownership group behind this project is taking steps to preserve the buildings’ character they’ve uncovered during the construction process.  Original, exposed brick walls still stand.


Beautiful reclaimed wood is being re-purposed for doorways and other trim elements.  I love that they are staying true to the vibe of the neighborhood.


Once they are fully operational, it’s time to get their family of beers out to the masses…on tap at bars and restaurants, and on display at grocery and beverage stores.


At this point, Brewmaster Andy Tveekrem says they are in the “courtship phase” with beverage distributors, trying to find the perfect marriage of production and distribution.

If it wasn’t official already, with an institution like Great Lakes Brewing Co. around the corner, and sister restaurant/brewery Nano Brew down the block, the addition of Market Garden Brewery’s expansion certainly makes a case for this portion of W. 25th St and Ohio City as Cleveland’s Brewery District.  Cheers!