A new restaurant, Kiln, is heating up in Van Aken District from chef Douglas Katz and business partner Todd Thompson. The restaurant, located at 3396 Tuttle Road in the Shaker Heights development (in the space which formerly housed Sawyer’s, then Garden City), is slated to open next summer.
While the project is still taking shape, Katz and Thompson said to expect a menu of classic dishes designed by culinary director and executive chef Cameron Pishnery, who has worked in their restaurant team for 17 years. Those dishes will be shareable in format, Katz says, and also customizable and friendly to diners with dietary restrictions. Director of Operations Phoebe Connell also helped shape the newest offering from the team that also runs local dining hotspots Zhug and Amba.
For a more specific example of what to expect at Kiln, Katz suggested the new concept might incorporate some version of duck confit — a nod to his former flagship Fire Food + Drink, which closed in 2020.
The restaurant’s complete offerings are still coming together, Katz and Thompson say. (“If we’re a little vague on the menu, it’s because we’re going to work through that,” Thompson says. “But we couldn’t pass this up.”)
“There will be nothing that is exactly as it was at Fire,” Katz says. “Just like everything else in our lives, there’s a lot that came from Fire, but there’s a lot that came from so many other places. I just don’t want anyone to think that it’s ‘Fire 2,’ or that we’re trying to create something we already did. This is sort of this new, exciting new American bistro at Van Aken District.”
“Being in the restaurant business for so long, you just pick up all the things about it that you truly love, and a lot of that's going to go into this project,” Thompson says.
It won’t be a sequel to Fire, Katz says, but its name certainly signifies a connection to the warmth of the former concept.
“Fire is closed, and while we decided not to continue that after the pandemic, the roots of that and what we’re going to create at Kiln, we feel can only carry that on and strengthen and do that for another generation of people,” Katz explains. “It just seems like the perfect time to do it, where we’re getting our lives back together after such a traumatic time. To be able to entertain people, it’s so fun to be able to do it again in a new place.”
The team aims to keep the essence of the restaurant space similar to how it existed for Sawyer’s and then Garden City.
“We love the space; it’s got great potential,” Thompson says. “I think we can do some really cool stuff with it. It’s open, it’s airy, comfortable, friendly but also it can be romantic.”
Katz says he’s still eyeing opportunities for other concepts he’s planned out in the future, like Chimi, a South American-inspired ghost kitchen concept. He’s been open about seeking a brick-and-mortar space for Chimi, and continues to plan for it — just, maybe wait until Kiln is up and running.
“We are going to continue adding amazing flavor to Cleveland and amazing experiences,” Katz says. “We’re excited about this, but we have a lot more passion to do more.”
Thompson adds: “But this one, first.”
(From left to right: Jesse Rathner, Jon Ratner, Katz and Thompson)