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'We are hoping for the roaring ’20s again': Forward Hospitality Group creating unique hotspots in Cleveland

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Posted at 6:59 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 06:59:43-04

CLEVELAND — There’s a new kid on the block in the Van Aken District in Shaker Heights.

“As soon as the pandemic hit, we made the decision to close the previous outlet that we were operating here,” said Rick Turner, an operational partner with Forward Hospitality Group.

At 3386 Tuttle road, in the former Sawyer’s restaurant space, now sits Kindred Spirit.

“We’ve created Kindred Spirit as a neighborhood destination that’s approachable. You’ll be able to order a number of items and share it with the entire table,” said Turner.

It’s one of many projects for the group. The restaurant opened March 11.

And while the pandemic steered many out of the hospitality industry, Turner said they saw the pandemic as an opportunity.

“It did the opposite for us it gave us a reason to keep our nose even closer to the grindstone and really forge forward with things,” he said.

The pandemic gave the group time to create spots that are unique, spots like Garden City.

“Garden City is our rooftop curated cocktail lounge,” said Turner. “I can’t think of a more Instagram worthy destination or a better place to spend a Sunday afternoon having a few cocktails.”

On the upstairs level of Kindred Spirit, you’ll find Garden City, currently open in limited capacity. Turner said Forward has used social media, specifically Instagram, to create a buzz about their places, so when doors did open, people who were anxious to get out, got in.

“Forward Hospitality Group relies heavily on Instagram because we create a different theme, a different vibe for each destination We have and Instagram is the best way to translate that,” he said. “Score a reservation for brunch or for afternoon cocktails and you’re putting it on Instagram and we immediately see a spike in future reservations.”

But it’s not just restaurants, Forward Hospitality Group is currently working to transform the nightlife in Cleveland, specifically the East Bank of the Flats. The 70’s themed nightclub Goodnight John Boy will open its doors soon in the spot, formerly known as Magnolia, which the group also owned.

“We are going to introduce it as Goodnight John Boy which is kind our take on going back to your grandparent’s basement in the mid 70’s. It’s shag carpet, it’s funky wallpaper, it’s a light up disco floor, it’s everything,” he said.

Michael Deemer with Downtown Cleveland Alliance said it’s places like Goodnight John Boy that will drive others to live and work downtown.

“I think to draw people out of their houses for work, for play, we need to be able to offer experiences,” said Deemer.

And as vaccinations continue to ramp up, the light at the end of the pandemic may be in sight and Turner is confident that Forward’s restaurants, bars and clubs will create a hospitality industry in northeast Ohio brighter than ever before.

“We are hoping for the roaring 20’s again,” he said.

Goodnight John Boy will join Forward’s other nightclub FWD Day + Nightclub in the Flats. Turner said they also have plans to open a country bar there, too.