CLEVELAND — Gabriel Zeller and Julie Mesenburg are just a few weeks away from unveiling Indie, a new restaurant set in the former home of Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th St. The driven husband-and-wife team are also behind Char Whisky Bar in Rocky River, Avo Modern Mexican in Ohio City and Lago at Lakeside, a seasonal operation in Marblehead. The pair spent months transforming the iconic property into a place that feels entirely fresh.
“We wanted to recreate the space into something that is ours,” explains Zeller. “With Greenhouse being such a staple for over a decade here, we wanted to change the space to make it ours.”
During the nearly one-year process, the new owners changed “everything but the floors,” adding that they resurfaced the bar top, removed the byzantine bar back, swapped out the tables and chairs, painted the walls, and redid much of the rooftop.
The most prominent feature that diners will notice comes in the form of some 235 colorful tour posters, amassed from more than 20 years of concertgoing by Zeller and Mesenburg. Professionally framed, hung and arranged, the massive collection represents a deep passion for independent music.
“They are things that we’ve collected over the years that mean a lot to us,” they explain. “It was a task in itself trying to figure out where a couple hundred would go and how it would flow.”
“Indie” music fans will spot posters from shows, festivals and tours featuring the Dave Matthews Band, The Decemberists, Radiohead, and My Morning Jacket. Entire sections are devoted to favorites like Nathaniel Rateliff and The Flaming Lips. A QR-code-based system will let guests dig deeper into the collection.
That musical vibe also works its way into the cocktail program, which features original creations like Hey Jealousy, Bloodbuzz Ohio and Here Comes the Night Time. Brunch fans can look forward to a weekly "Grunge brunch" on Saturdays and Sunday brunches with an evolving musical theme. And of course, the playlist will be scrupulously arranged by the owners.
When it comes to the food, diners will enjoy Southern-styled appetizers like green tomato hush puppies, spoon cornbread and braised and seared pork belly with slaw. Entrees include a shrimp Po' Boy, chicken and waffles, a seafood boil and chili mac and cheese. The specialty of the house is the fried chicken, served with all the fixings. The Country Picnic, ideal for sharing, is a platter loaded with cooked and cured meats, cheeses, pickled veggies, nuts, spreads, preserves and breads.
Greenhouse Tavern goers might recall a rear mezzanine, which was used for additional dining. Zeller and Mesenburg elected to seal it off and turn it into a cozy “membership-style speakeasy” featuring high-end spirits. And come spring, the famous rooftop patio overlooking East 4th Street will once again be the place to be.