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Restaurants in Battery Park tanking, owners say high rent and low volume are to blame

Posted at 7:16 PM, Dec 21, 2017

Battery Park is a Cleveland neighborhood in need of a recharge.

It's home to a number of vacant businesses on Cleveland's west side, even in the middle of a continued housing boom along the Detroit Shoreway. Now, just one business remains after the others have fallen like dominoes.

"It's hard to see them go," said Terrestrial Brewing Company General Manager Tony Kost. 

Graffiti, Vita Urbana and Cha Pizza all shuttered after trying to make a go of it in Battery Park.

"It's a little scary, I guess, to have the other places close just because now we are the only people here," said Kost. "We had an amazing spring and summer, better than we actually hoped for."

Kost's Terrestrial Brewing opened in April, but just like their former neighbors, it has seen a dramatic drop in business, along with the temperatures.

"We're getting into specialty shops and other big restaurants to get our beer out there and get us through the colder winter months," said Kost.

It's a mode of survival his former neighbors did not have. Kost says that's why he wants to see the landlord step up.

"They need to help a lot to get people in here and to make people stay," said Kost.

One suggestion: less rent.

"You have these high ticket homes, businesses aren't necessarily going to make a ton of money right away, and that can be daunting to a smaller business starting up," said Kost.

Kost says more retail options could attract more people from outside the immediate neighborhood.

"It could be a problem of location," said Detroit Shoreway Resident Steven Vangilder while on his walk by Terrestrial Brewing Company. "I think everything is cyclical, the Flats were dead for quite a number of years and now they've resurged."

A quick resurgence is what Kost and his staff at Terrestrial Brewing are hoping for, as his business becomes a beacon in Battery Park.

"Whether we want it or not it's our weight to carry now, but we look forward to the challenge," Kost said.

Even one of the owners from one of businesses that left said there's still optimism about Battery Park. Mike Graley owned Vita Urbana before it closed on Monday. He says he thinks Battery Park is still one of Cleveland's biggest redevelopment success stories - he and others just may have arrived in the area too soon.

Graley says he isn't ruling out a return in the near future.