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'Come early, stay late': Cleveland looking to increase downtown winter nightlife

Cleveland nightlife
Posted at 10:58 PM, Jan 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-22 11:04:33-05

CLEVELAND — The streets aren't always flooded with people during the winter months in Cleveland, but that doesn't mean people aren't looking to enjoy downtown nightlife.

Vince, a 26-year-old Cleveland-area native, is often looking for things to do with friends downtown and sees potential for more growth.

"I’m 26, so me and my buddies go out pretty often to get food and drinks and kind of do a number of things so I think honestly just having a spectrum of activities to do around, maybe events that are happening in the city. I think anything that's accessible to everyone would work out," he said.

For new residents like Andres and Roberto, who moved downtown from Mexico three months ago, some more excitement would be an added touch to a nightlife they've started to enjoy so far.

"Maybe more clubs, Latin clubs, we love to dance," Roberto said. "Maybe dancing clubs would be good but it's good but we have a lot of fun here."

Andres was even told to wait a few months to start enjoying Cleveland's nightlife more.

"We’re waiting for summer because everybody tells us ‘Summertime is fun, so much better,'" Andres said.

But not feeling like there's anything to do in the winter is something leaders at Downtown Cleveland Alliance understand and are working to address.

"What you see behind us is fire pits, drinks, s'mores kits, just a great opportunity for people to enjoy the evening in downtown Cleveland and part of our effort really to make downtown more of a four seasons neighborhood," said Michael Deemer, President of CEO of Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Deemer described the Bright Nights pop-up behind him, held outside The Archer apartment building on West 9th Street. The event was created to bring people out downtown to enjoy the city, gather for an evening of fun and experience the nightlife of Cleveland.

"We want them to stay here, come early, stay late, support the businesses in the neighborhood," Deemer said.

Another goal of the event is to have people stay out downtown and explore the businesses offering a nightlife. Businesses like Mallorca, a fine dining Spanish restaurant on West 9th Street.

Owner of Mallorca and president of Cleveland Independents Laurie Torres can tell on a winter evening what her business is going to look like just by seeing what the traffic downtown looks like.

"I come down sometimes during traffic hour, if I don’t see traffic I know we’re going to be slower," Torres said. "Generally what’s going on in the city dictates how busy we’re going to be."

That makes a bustling nightlife even more important for places like Mallorca in the winter.

"We’re 27 years old, it’s not like it was 27, even 20 years ago,—there’s no shopping downtown there’s just a lot of things that have left the city so things like plays and events…they’re crucial to the survival of independent restaurants downtown," Torres said.

That makes events like Bright Nights—which saw groups of people popping in and out, meeting each other and enjoying the night before heading to their next destination—even more important.

"Anything that brings people downtown makes me smile because it’s a beautiful city that we have," Torres said.

And the most important thing to many is just seeing Cleveland thrive, even in the winter months.

"I would love to keep seeing Cleveland grow and prosper and continue to get beautified and I think there’s a lot of opportunity here," said local John Hillbery, who was out for a night downtown ahead of the Cavs game a few blocks away.

There are more Bright Nights events planned throughout the winter, which aims to help solve that very problem. For more information on the events and to see the schedule planned for this winter, click here.

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