a special report by The Tremonster
The new, second location for Crust – in Midtown Cleveland – is up and running. Now, the familiar sights and smells that have beckoned Tremonsters half way down Kenilworth from either W. 10th or W. 11th Streets to the small but mighty Crust Tremont location are having the same impact on new customers from the intersection of St. Clair Avenue and E. 30th Street.
“This is Crust Midtown – our second location (3000 St. Clair Avenue, 216.589.9711),” said Mike Griffin, the proud owner of a new, additional Crust location now open alongside Cleveland’s business district. Griffin wants Tremonsters to know: “Our original location is still at 1020 Kenilworth, right in the heart of Tremont.”
Crust is not the only Tremont-launched establishment that has made a splash in other Cleveland neighborhoods by opening a second location. Many Tremonsters have been drawn to E. 4th Street by the recent opening of the Butcher and the Brewer (2043 E 4th Street), a second location for Cleveland Brewing Company’s Chris Leib, expanding on his wildly popular gastropub, Tremont TapHouse. Bac Nguyen has drawn Tremonsters with a passion for his brand of “authentic Asian American” food and drink at Bac Tremont to visit the University Circle neighborhood in order to try his second location, Ninja City.
When asked about the expansion of his business, Griffin explained, “We chose this [Midtown] location because we’re still in Cleveland, we’re close to the downtown office space, we have a ton of parking down here, a ton of seating – a little under 100 seats – and we’re putting in close to three kitchens in here. We’re going to do a lot of homemade bread for the Crust Tremont location; we’re going to be able to expand our bread selection; everything is homemade with a four-proof process; and all the dough for the pizza is made every morning, 5 am. It’s like an old-school bakery, but for pizzas only.”
The larger second location opens up new possibilities for the Crust menu as well as Crust service offerings. According to Griffin, “We’ll be able to expand out desert selection, our catering selection.” Catering has already proved to be a boon from the Crust Tremont location. Griffin said, “We do a ton of stuff with The Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Hospital, and UH.” His dreams of expanding Crust services don’t end there Griffin added, “We’re able to do delivery out of here for lunch. We have a lot of space here to do it. With the space and the building that we bought we’ll be able to kind of control our future from here – we could possibly do more locations because of the centralized location down here.”
Shortly before press time, Griffin confirmed by email that Crust is now delivering orders of $50.00 or higher. Tremonsters have been watching Chef Jeff Fisher (formerly head chef at Touch) working the line over the past three years while at Crust Tremont for a slice of the famous Destroyer, a Mediterranean Roasted Chicken sub, an order of the Penne Pasta, or any of the other high-quality surprises coming out of the little storefront on Kenilworth. At Crust’s second location, while preparing specialty slab bacon in the Midtown kitchen, Fisher described a new sandwich offering: “For the Crust Sriracha BLTE, we cook our house-smoked bacon once, coat it with sriracha, bake it off again, then put it on a sandwich with the house-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and egg with garlic mayonnaise…it’s the shiz-nit.”
Prior to opening Crust Midtown, Griffin confided, “Opening is always very stressful. You have no sleep for one week, but after that you should be smooth sailing.” Coming from developing a startup in a quirky, old-world Tremont building, many of our expanding entrepreneurial Tremonsters find themselves dreaming of squeezing the most out of every square inch of new business space in a second location. “[It’s challenging] just getting the process down of going from 500 square feet to a couple thousand square feet – and mass-producing homemade foods,” said Griffin. “Now we start at five in the morning with the bread; all the homemade meatballs, and stuffed banana peppers, chicken parm; all the homemade dressings and mayonnaises, too – and mass-producing the wonderful pasta as well. We’re trying to get all that on another scale: higher volume.”
Griffin recently subbed in a brand new pizza oven for his good-old, reliable Crust Tremont oven, which he moved to the new Midtown Crust location, where it continues its loyal service of Crust customers, now an appropriately quirky stand-out at the end of a row of brand new, state-of-the-art pizza ovens identical to its replacement in Crust Tremont. “All the ovens that we have…we have a ton of bread, a ton of deserts we’re able to shoot up to Tremont, shoot out to different locations,” Griffin beamed with excitement for the future. That’s understandable, considering the success other entrepreneurs are finding after starting up in our neighborhood, and then using Tremont as a springboard to open additional locations in other Cleveland neighborhoods
Griffin concluded, “I am very excited about the location. We’re very excited.”