The corner of Professor Avenue and Literary Road will never be the same.
Once the throne for Cleveland’s culinary king, Michael Symon, the Tremont brick building has stood as a symbol of power, hope and culinary renaissance.
When Symon announced in October 2019 that the space formerly known as Lola Bistro, then Lolita and then the named-but-never-opened Sherla’s Chicken and Oysters had been sold, we weren’t surprised. But disappointed? That’s an understatement.
As the heartbeat of Tremont’s dining scene — and arguably Northeast Ohio’s — Symon’s original spot, where he opened Lola in 1997, isn’t only the place where he launched an impressive solo career. It’s a landmark for how we still eat today: Old World flavors and ingredients pushed, pulled and twisted into something that’s familiar, yet thrilling and fresh.
Because of the success of 900 Literary Road, other local chefs such as Rocco Whalen found the confidence to venture out on their own, especially in Tremont. To be close to Symon’s rising star was a game-changer. Before Lolita closed in early 2016, long lines would still slither out of the restaurant with its waiting guests going to nearby restaurants for drinks or appetizers. Tremont was vibrant, buzzy and alive.
Sure, there’s plenty of reasons for Symon to move on from his iconic spot: The 2016 fire, new ventures, changing tastes and neighborhood competition.
But for us, it’s left an unfillable hole in our foodie hearts. Of course, we’re fans of new building owner Dave Ferrante, who owns Visible Voice Books down the street. But Cleveland’s culinary lightning usually never strikes twice.