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Doug Trattner reports: Karen Small talks new restaurant Juneberry Table, Ohio City's growth, future of Flying Fig

Juneberry Table's opening is three years in the making and coincides with big changes in its home neighborhood.

CLEVELAND — In March, chef Karen Small put her farm-to-table bistro Flying Fig to bed after a remarkable 23-year run.

At the same time, she was finally getting ready to open her long-awaited diner: Juneberry Table in Ohio City. The project had been in the works for three years.

"We took the space over in October of 2019," Small said of the former Jack Flaps space on Lorain Ave.

Small and her team updated the interior to make it lighter, brighter, and more accommodating. She expanded the bar, added banquettes, built a booth, installed a window counter, and added attractive light and decorative fixtures. There is seating for 30 guests.

Small, a self-described "morning person," describes Juneberry as a "modern but classic" urban diner that serves breakfast and lunch.

"We're going to use, as always, very wholesome ingredients," she told us, "very regional ingredients."

Fans of Flying Fig's weekend brunch will see some carryover in the menu, with many items having roots in Appalachia, where Small lived for many years. Diners will find a selection of dishes rich with greens, grains, beans, cured meats, and preserves.

"This is something I promised we'd have from the beginning: a breakfast salad," the chef said. "Here's what we're calling our Juneberry Breakfast, and that's probably our most classic breakfast. And we've got Ohio cornmeal waffles and fried local chicken."

Juneberry Table has a liquor license, so diners can pair those breakfast and lunch platters with a beer, cider, wine, or a cocktail.

"Natural wines will be our focus as they were at the wine shop," Small added.

During The Flying Fig's lengthy existence, Small observed the neighborhood around her – Ohio City – completely transform. Progress that had long been concentrated on West 25th Street had begun inching its way down Lorain Avenue toward the Detroit Shoreway.

Those sweeping changes are part of what motivated her to close The Fig, open the diner, and devise a new plan for the original space – one that will incorporate more retail.

"I felt between the changes in the neighborhood and the fact that I really wanted to go smaller – and I didn't want to work well into the evening any longer," she explained. "I wanted to take some of the things that I really loved about the business and then integrate them when we reopen at The Fig."

Small says that while closing her pioneering bistro was difficult, it also was the right thing to do.

"I just want a fresh start at this point," she admitted. "I'm ripe for a change and I think it's a good time for a change, because the same isn't really working anymore."

You can check out Juneberry Table's menu here.

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