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First look at the new restaurants in the Flats | Doug Trattner reports

Between a wine bar and a country bar complete with a mechanical bull, there will be something for everyone.

CLEVELAND — If you thought the Flats East Bank developers were done adding bars, restaurants and clubs to this lively waterfront district, you would be mistaken. Despite a vibrant and diverse mix of more than a dozen dining and entertainment options, the Flats is saving some of its biggest surprises for the next phase of expansion. Over the coming weeks and months, the neighborhood will welcome a half dozen new spots, with even more on the horizon.

“We’re about halfway done with a project, that, at completion, we expect will be an investment of about 1 billion dollars,” says developer Scott Wolstein.

Wolstein, along with his business partner Jillian Wolstein, aren’t just sitting on the sidelines; they will be part of the action when Smokey’s BBQ and Saloon opens in a newly constructed building on the river. The Texas-style barbecue joint will feature food from chef James Baker, who happens to be the son of Browns legend and Bubba’s Q founder Al “Bubba” Baker.

Smokey’s is sandwiched in the building by a first-floor country and western venue, to be opened by the Forward Hospitality team, and a pair of rooftop bars. The Sundance Lounge will offer inventive cocktails and small plates to go with those killer sunset views, while an adjacent space, the Cassidy Room, will bring an intimate cigar lounge experience to the Flats.

“It’s gonna be exciting,” adds Wolstein.

Next door, Zdenko Zovkic of XO fame, will be opening Jade, an Asian-fusion restaurant that will offer guests three different experiences on three different levels. The main floor will be a casual but stylish sushi bar, the second level will be a bit more upscale, and the rooftop will be a swanky club that eventually will convert to a membership-only lounge.

In between the buildings occupied by Jade and Smokey’s will be a pedestrian beer garden.

Down the block, Cherie Wine Bar and Lounge will bring the first wine-bar experience to the Flats when it opens. Owned by Scott’s son Merrick and Amanda Chamoun, Cherie will be a “chic, romantic and intimate space” that takes its cues from plush European spots.

“I am a big wine drinker – I don’t really drink a lot of alcohol – so sitting by the river on a nice sunny day with a chardonnay… my happy place,” says Wolstein.

Other looming developments include an LGBTQ bar, a second apartment building and other large developments that will convert present-day parking lots to future commercial and residential properties, which have been part of Wolstein’s mater plan all along.

“Knock on wood, I think it’s worked just as we hoped it would,” he says.

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