by Adam Scraga
(Plain Press, January 2017) The building was in disarray, layers of trash covered the floors, and homeless people came and went. It was more than 100 years old and most people would have torn the building down, but Howard Grandon is not most people.
Grandon is the owner of the building at 7310 Detroit Ave. and is responsible for its incredible transformation. The mounds of trash a distant memory, 7310 Detroit Avenue is now a commercial retail space as well as an apartment building.
“I really like saving old things,” Grandon said. “People nowadays throw things away as soon as something goes wrong and I like to re-use and recycle, and used that in my building design.” When Banter first opened, a 90-year-old table was placed in the wine room for people to gather at. Banter is one of the tenants of the new building, a restaurant serving sausages, poutine and beer.
“I bought the building at the bottom of the real estate market and it was a good investment,” Grandon said. “It’s near the lake, near downtown, and the neighborhood was starting to make a turnaround and I wanted to be a part of it.” Grandon purchased the building in late 2009.
The structure at 7310 Detroit Ave. is called the “Cheerio Building,” named after a bar called, “Cheerio” that occupied the space for at least 50 years, dating back to the 1930s.
Local architectural historian Craig Bobby says the building was “built in 1909. Its original owner was Alfred Arthur and the architectural firm responsible for its design was White and Shupe.”
Today, the Cheerio Building has five retail spaces, three occupied by the restaurant Banter and two empty retail spaces that Grandon is in talks to fill, potentially with an attorney, a barber shop, or a yoga studio. On the second floor are four apartments, one of which Grandon lives in, himself. Two others have permanent residents and the last apartment is being used for short-term corporate housing.
From 1997 until Grandon purchased it in 2009, the building bounced around from owner to owner, bank to bank. There were eight different owners during that time span. It was not easy restoring the building. Grandon says it took more than two years to get it into a condition where utilities could be installed.
Banter, a restaurant specializing in sausages, poutine, and beer, opened in December 2015. The floors inside Banter are made from old tiles from the Elyria High School basketball court, another example of Grandon’s reusing old things. Behind the building is a large dining patio with plentiful seating, lighting, and flowers everywhere. There are three sections to Banter, the bar and restaurant and two others selling bottles of wine and beer.
Banter has three owners, Matt Stipe, Adam Gullett, and Tom Owen. Adam Lambert was their chef and created the menu when it opened but now owns his own restaurant.
Banter has quickly received many accolades and was called Scene Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant” this past April. It also was on the list of “The 15 Best New Restaurants in Cleveland” by the Plain Dealer in May, and was even included on the list of “46 Things to do in Cleveland during the GOP Convention” by the New York Times in July.
Grandon is not surprised by all the attention given to Banter and believes there could be more to come, because of the new television show “Cleveland Hustles,” produced by LeBron James, which focuses on giving entrepreneurs a chance to compete to get an investment for a business in the Gordon Square neighborhood.
“[Cleveland Hustles] has had a big impact on the Gordon Square area,” Grandon said. “People are more aware of what’s here. People are coming down to look around. They might come to see one business in particular and find five more that interest them, so it’s great for everyone.”
Grandon says now is a great time for any businesses interested in moving to the Gordon Square area. “There’s a growth factor – 600 new housing units are being built nearby. Edgewater Beach is getting a brand-new beach house next year. There’s also a freeway ramp on West 73rd Street being built which will make it easier to access.”
The Cheerio Building is just one of many in the area making a turnaround. With much more attention and traffic coming through, Grandon feels this is just the beginning of the revitalization of Gordon Square.