When people criticize Cleveland, they’ll often cite factories or buildings that have closed down and gone into disrepair as the death knell of a once prosperous city. And although there has been a decline in certain neighborhoods as industry focus changes, there are other areas of the city where new growth and revitalization are happening.
One of these is in the Cleveland West Side’s Gordon Square Arts District where a combination of housing, new business, arts and beautification projects are sparking a regrowth in the area.
At the heart of Gordon Square there are three arts and non-profit organizations: the Cleveland Public Theatre, the Near West Theatre and the Capitol Theatre. With the renovation and construction of these buildings, the GSAD hopes to develop a desirable neighborhood, attract a creative workforce, and offer programs that provide access to and engagement in the arts.
While the city waits for the completion of the CPT and Near West Theatre projects, Gordon Square has already finished the restoration of the Capitol Theatre. Located at 1390 W. 65th St., the Capitol first opened in 1921 as a vaudeville and silent film house. It continued operating as the neighborhood’s movie theatre until it closed in 1985 due to building damage. After being vacant for the last two decades, the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, CPT and Near West Theatre partnered to restore the building.
The renovation was completed at the end of last year with the grand reopening in October 2009. The historic details and 1920s atmosphere were maintained, while the Capitol was converted from a single-movie to a three-screen theatre. The restoration included the wall murals, classic architecture and vaudeville stage, with amenities being added such as all-digital projection, 3D capabilities, and an expanded lounge and concession area. (Videos are available tracking the year-and-a-half-long restoration process.)
Although the Detroit Shoreway owns the theatre, Cleveland Cinemas operates it — offering the West Side its own version of the Cedar Lee. Like the other Cleveland Cinemas theatres, the Capitol not only shows current releases, but also independent, foreign and documentary films. Recent events have included the Free Kids Summer Film Fest on Wednesdays, the Melt Bar and Grilled Late Shift Presents, American Splendor in honor of Harvey Pekar, and a stop on the Everything is Terrible tour.
One of the Capitol’s other ongoing events is their Sunday Classics Brunch & Movie Series. On the last Sunday of each month, the theatre presents a different classic film in HD and then one of the restaurants in the Gordon Square Arts District hosts brunch.
Last Sunday, Scott and I headed over to the Capitol to see the original 1963 Pink Panther movie and eat brunch at Reddstone Bar and Grille. This was actually the first time I had seen Pink Panther, and for numerous reasons I had expected something completely different. I always thought that the movie was based solely on Clouseau, who struck me as a frustrating, bumbling idiot. This was probably because my only exposure to the series was from seeing previews of subsequent Pink Panther movies. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the original – with Clouseau not as bumbling of an idiot as he is stereotyped, Henry Mancini’s dynamic score, David Niven’s dashing Phantom, and an ending which was unexpectedly poignant.
And although Scott had seen the movie times before, it was a completely different experience seeing it on a big screen. The Sunday Classics are shown in the main auditorium of the Capitol which is a beautiful setting. At the front, of course, is a large projection screen with the vaudeville stage in front of it. The seats are firm, yet comfortable. And the beautifully detailed ceiling of the movie house shows off its golden age glamour.
After the movie, we headed over to Reddstone. I’ve eaten there before when a group from work went for pizza and wings happy hour. However, I had not had Reddstone’s brunch. I ordered a Bloody Mary and the Protein and Potatoes which came with flank steak, eggs, potatoes and an english muffin. The egg was over easy, which is how I like it. The flank steak was prepared nicely – not overcooked and seasoned well. And I particularly enjoyed the homefries which were slightly crispy with onions mixed in – not just plain hashbrowns, too soft or too greasy which breakfast potatoes often suffer from. I’ve recently started trying Bloody Marys out and have found I’m a bigger fan of more tomato flavor, rather than being overwhelmed with tabasco. And while the Reddstone’s Bloody Mary had a good pepper kick to it, it didn’t overshadow the tomato flavor I enjoy.
Scott, on the other hand, has much simpler tastes than I do. He ordered a burger plain – which is how he likes it – so that he can savor the flavor of the meat without the interruption of bread or condiments. Although I wouldn’t have enjoyed the burger plain, he liked the way Reddstone prepared the meat – so there were no complaints from him either.
Unfortunately, the staff found themselves unexpectedly shorthanded when an injury in the kitchen ended with one of their chefs being driven to the hospital. While a few of the customers at brunch did not want to tolerate any delays in getting their food, it was clear that this wasn’t planned or the staff’s fault. Having waited tables before, the delay was understandable and Scott and I found it actually made our morning a little more leisurely — which is how Sundays should be.
The Brunch and Movie Package is a pretty good value at $20, but you can also just see the movie for $5. Reservations for the complete package can be made by calling 440-349-3306 ext. 1000; tickets for only the movie can be purchased at the Capitol Theatre box office or online.
Upcoming Sunday Classics include August 29th’s Stagecoach and brunch at Latitude 41N, and What’s Up Doc and brunch at Stone Mad on September 26th. Both movies start at 10 am with brunch to follow. If late night fare is more your style, the Melt Bar and Grilled Late Shift series will be showing This is Spinal Tap on August 21st and Escape from New York on September 18th – both at midnight. Other events and information can be found at the Cleveland Cinemas or Gordon Square Arts District pages, by following the Capitol Theatre on Facebook or @Capitolw65th.
The Capitol Theatre is proof that there is a resurgence going on in Cleveland. And if the return of this historic building to its former glory is any indication, the Gordon Square Arts District will continue to develop into a cultural center to be reckoned with as the Cleveland Public Theatre and Near West Theatre projects also come to completion.