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Pier W: Fantastic Food, Even Better Customer Service

Two pieces of housekeeping: 

1) Congratulations to entry #34 – Megan Kilway! You won two tickets to CIFF’s Get Shorty Film Feast. Please reply to my email by January 26 at noon ET to confirm you can still attend.

Don’t have your tickets yet to Get Shorty on January 29? Tickets can be purchased here. You’ll have a great evening out, while helping to raise money for CIFF 39.

ciff tinyu

2) A note about today’s blog post: At various points in both of our careers, Scott and I worked in some form of customer relations. Because of this, we love seeing examples of businesses that go out of their way to provide stellar service, especially in response to a misstep. No one’s perfect; it’s how a business handles a mistake that truly demonstrates the value they place on their customer relationships.

I say all of this because of a recent experience Scott had at Pier W. He asked me if he could share it on the blog. Take it away, Scott.

Pier W 1

There was a saying I often heard as a child:

“It’s not your mistakes that define you, but how you deal with those mistakes.”

Most of the time I find sayings like that trite and indefinable in real life, so when I come across an actual example of it I take note.

Amanda and I have been big fans of Pier W for some time. I’d long been interested in going thanks to the billboard that towers over the Shoreway (especially when the modern ad fell off and the awesome old Pier W ad was visible for a few days).

It’s one of the few places around Cleveland where this Jersey boy can get really good seafood. I was hooked after my first sip of lobster bisque at a happy hour.

Add to their food the lakeside location, view of Cleveland’s stunning skyline, an incredible layout (love the glass elevator that goes past a fish tank!), and live pianist tickling ivories with superhero movie theme songs, and you have one of the coolest places in Cleveland.

It should come as no surprise that when it came time to plan Amanda’s birthday dinner, Pier W was at the top of my list.

Unfortunately, a customer service glitch kept our group from having dinner there that evening. Amanda’s birthday still turned out fine, but like all plans gone awry one does feel somewhat hardened to what threw things off. I loved Pier W, and I didn’t want to have a smudge on my opinion of it. But that was the fact of the matter.

Thankfully, that issue will not be what defines Pier W for me. I reached out to the restaurant, and after I explained to General Manager Mark Kawada what happened, he was determined to make sure what went wrong was put right.

Shortly after the start of 2015, Amanda, I, and a small group of friends were able to have that birthday dinner at Pier W.

Pier w food smaller

Iced Seafood Tower, Lobster Pappardelle, Chocolate Mousse Cake

It was an incredible time, and this was thanks to the wonderful customer service of Mr. Kawada and the staff at Pier W. He was determined that one bad experience would not define my view of the restaurant.

His above-and-beyond work paid off. I could not have a higher opinion of Pier W than I do right now. It was a mistake well fixed. (The free glass of champagne that Pier W is giving all of their guests for their 50th anniversary didn’t hurt.)

As grateful as I am to Mr. Kawada, let’s not forget the true star of our dinner at Pier W: Succulent raw oysters, the Iced Seafood Tower, the salty juices of Alaskan Crab Legs, and of course the lobster bisque.

I know Amanda thoroughly enjoyed the Maine lobster pappardelle she ordered. It’s the addition of ingredients like red peppers and French green beans in the pappardelle’s rich cognac sauce that sets Pier W’s dishes above others.

We were all delightfully stuffed, but that didn’t keep us from some delightful dessert. Chocolate mousse cake for myself and refreshing housemade sorbets for Amanda..

I’m thankful Mr. Kawada was able to put Pier W back in my positive thoughts, because the idea of going through life without any of that again makes me very sad.

So that is my delicious illustration of a trite – but important – saying. Pier W has redefined itself to me as not only a fantastic Cleveland dinner spot, but a true believer in excellent customer service.

I can’t wait to go back and recommend the restaurant to anyone looking for a special night of exquisite food and service that matches. If you go during the first 100 days of this year, you’ll also get a free glass of champagne (and flute to take home) in honor of Pier W’s 50th anniversary.

Because I love any chance to pen a limerick, here’s one dedicated to Pier W:

There once was a man who liked seafood,
And desired some that was real good.
So he tried very hard not to drool,
As he looked at the menu of Pier W,
And when there he’s always in a fantastic mood!

Time Traveling with Ingenuity Cleveland, Emerging Chefs and PlayhouseSquare

Scott and I finally saw Midnight in Paris last week (which hands down deserves its 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). His mom and sister had been urging me for weeks to see Woody Allen’s latest comedy because like Owen Wilson’s character, I can often be a sucker for nostalgia.

From shopping for vintage clothing and housewares to scooping up a well-priced antique typewriter or gramophone at a yard sale, I get giddy at finding things that hearken a lost generation.

It’s why I’m looking forward to the next couple of months, as a handful of Cleveland events hope to transport guests back in time for an evening:

Ingenuity Cleveland’s SpeakEasy 2.0 

Ingenuity Cleveland’s SpeakEasy 2.0 returns to the Detroit Superior Bridge’s subway tunnels on July 15.

20s and 30s nostalgia get thrown in a blender with the cutting edge innovation that has become a trademark of previous Ingenuity events.

Entertainment will include Vance Music Studio’s Syncopated Sin Swing Jazz Band, neo-vaudeville duo Pinch and Squeal and the Hilar-A-Tease Dancers, while screenings of Louise Brooks’ Pandora’s Box with live jazz, DJs Graydar and Lo_Tek Jackers, and appearances by Uno Lady and Dr. Sketchy add a modern twist to the evening.

Of course there will be food and enough drink to make Zelda Fitzgerald happy.  And it’s all in the subway tunnels. Last year’s IngenuityFest was my first time on that part of the bridge, and I just remember being blown away by how much character that location has as the light and shadows play along the catacombs.

The flexibility of the three ticket levels is a huge win for me:

  • $100 (4 pack available for $350): Doors open at 6pm, include dinner and open bar with live music, entertainment, and dancing until 1 AM
  • $30 ($40 at the door): Party starts at 8 PM with gourmet snacks, more live entertainment, two drink tickets
  • $15 ($20 at the door): At 10 PM the Speakeasy 2.0 goes 21st century by mixing vaudeville entertainment with DJs and dancing. Admission include 2 beer tickets.

All proceeds benefit IngenuityFest 2011 which returns to the bridge Sept. 15-17.  I was disappointed when I couldn’t attend last year’s SpeakEasy, but after Cocktail Party Redux and Temple of Tesla, I’ve been saving July 15 in my calendar for a while.

Buy SpeakEasy 2.0 Tickets Here


Emerging Chefs’ Summer White Party

 UPDATE: Summer White Party has been cancelled. More info here.

After June’s very modern evening of sushi, the next Emerging Chefs will put their tasty spin on classic lakeside soirees with the Summer White Party. Joined by Executive Chef Regan Reik of Pier W, they’ll head down to the historic East Ninth Street Pier to create a spectacular luxury pop-up restaurant for one night only – July 16 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Chef Reik will be designing a menu of summer seafood fare to enjoy on the lake as Emerging Chefs invites guests to sport their special summer whites or yacht clothes (I feel a trip to a vintage store is in order!). The evening will be fitting for the Rockefellers and Hannas of Cleveland’s past as everyone enjoys a luxurious lakeside evening.

Scott and I have been fans of the unique dishes created by previous Emerging Chefs – so much so that we took two of our friends from Philly to Sushi at Sunset. With a swift but efficient change of venue to the Asian Town Center to avoid the rain (huge kudos to Emerging Chefs for getting that up and running in only a few hours), Scott, Ali, Gary and I enjoyed an intimate evening of Chef Daniel Cassano’s creations.

One of Chef Cassano's Sushi at Sunset creations - Japanese style beef tartar over pickled and fried lotus root. The surprising crunchiness of the lotus root was my favorite part of this dish.

Beef Sushi Brochette in a Sake soy beurre blanc reduction and the poached shrimp gazpacho were definite highlights – one for its tender, buttery richness and the other for a bright freshness with pops of scallion. The beurre blanc reduction was so good, we all remarked we could have eaten it on its own with a spoon.

If Chef Reik can play the same magic with seafood that Chef Cassano did with sushi (which I know he can if Pier W’s menu is any indication!), then the Summer White Party will be another dazzling Emerging Chefs event.

Buy Summer White Party Tickets Here


source: Playhousesquare.org

PlayhouseSquare’s Cinema at the Square

Cinema at the Square is back for its 14th year August 4-21.This PlayhouseSquare series holds a special place in my heart because it was at last year’s Back to the Future night that I was introduced to PlayhouseSquare Partners. Having been recently voted onto the Partners Board (more about that excitement later!), I can’t wait to check the classic film series out again because the lineup looks great and the event holds fond memories.

As in previous years, Cinema at the Square will feature 16 film favorites projected on the Palace Theatre’s famous screen (a 20 foot-high by 47 foot-wide super Hurly-Glo projection screen).

The lineup consists of a well-balanced mix of classics like the original King Kong, Grand Hotel and Charade, as well as more modern fare including a double feature of Batman and Batman Returns, Jaws, the 1978 Superman and Muppet Treasure Island.  Check the full list of films here.

Moviegoers will also be treated to pre-show organ recitals on the theatre’s restored 1927 Kimball organ that contains 16 sets of pipes, a xylophone, Glockenspiel, a complete set of drums and cymbals.

Besides the rare opportunity to enjoy classic movies projected on the big screen, the organ concert was definitely one of my favorite parts of last year’s Cinema at the Square.

Buy Cinema at the Square Tickets Here


For a nostalgia junkie like me, these are just a few ways to catch a glimmer of a bygone era without constructing a time travel machine. If you have any suggestions of similar places or events to check out, share them in the comments!