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Unique businesses thriving in Cleveland Heights, despite the pandemic

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Posted at 7:46 AM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 20:12:52-04

Starting a new business is tough.

Starting a *niche* new business during a pandemic — well, can you even imagine?

Wizbang! Circus Theatre opened its doors just weeks ago on Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights, after an originally planned opening date of April 1.

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Wizbang! Circus Theatre in Cleveland Heights.

And if there’s one thing Jason and Danielle Tilk know — it’s how to make you laugh.

The duo, known as “Pinch and Squeal,” traveled the country for years before deciding to settle down and open up the theatre. It’s a mix between cabaret, circus, street theatre, and clowning.

Oh, and a circus school for kids, teens, and adults.

“We’re teaching all kinds of circus arts from contortion to juggling to hula hoop tricks,” Tilk said.

In the beginning, Wizbang! was set up to seat 65 people, but of course they had to change things — now they have 12 socially distant seats, making for more intimate shows.

“The show must go on right?” Danielle said, laughing. “That’s kind of like our own style, we’re like just ‘Let’s just do it, work through it,’ and you learn a lot when it’s really hard.”

“Especially now people need that laughter, need that joy in their lives,” Jason added.

And making what’s hard a little easier right now is what the city of Cleveland Heights is helping to do.

“Whether they are for improvements, forgivable loans, there’s a variety of tools in the toolbox to try to attract businesses,” said Mary Trupo, director of communications for the city of Cleveland Heights.

That, alongside a new initiative called “All are Welcome” — hoping to capitalize on the diverse and inclusive history of the city to attract new businesses and new residents.

Down the road on Coventry, Happy Bee’s Ice Cream is happily buzzing along.

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Happy Bees Ice Cream and Coffee in Cleveland Heights.

A 2019 opening date pushed to this summer, soon after coronavirus restrictions lifted in Ohio.

“It’s actually been awesome, a lot of word of mouth,” said owner Laura Sanchez.

And we should mention that it’s ice cream — with a twist.

“It is infused with 5 % alcohol so not super strong, comparable to a beer or wine cooler,” Sanchez explained.

Unique businesses making a home in the heights — pandemic or not.

The ice cream must be scooped and the show must go on.