Known for its namesake movie house, the Cedar Lee district offers dining, artistic and retail options for all tastes

Story and photography by Michael C. Butz

You’ve just spent an afternoon at one of University Circle’s many museums and you’re looking for a destination where you can end your evening. While there are plenty of places from which to choose, you might consider the Cedar Lee – not the movie theater, but the whole district.

“I think people often discount there’s more than just the Cedar Lee Theatre, which is a wonderful anchor for us,” says Kelley Robinson, director of the Cedar Lee Special Improvement District. “Whether you’re a film buff, foodie or just looking for a friendly place to eat, shop or even catch a play, we invite you to discover what really is one amazing mile.”

That mile – defined by the well-traveled intersection of Cedar and Lee roads in Cleveland Heights – spans the Lee Road corridor from Cain Park to the north to Dobama Theatre and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library’s Lee Road branch to the south.

“Whether you’re a film buff, foodie or just looking for a friendly place to eat, shop or even catch a play, we invite you to discover what really is one amazing mile.”

Kelley Robinson, director of the Ceder Lee Special Improvement District

In between is an eclectic mix of dining options, many of which offer an al fresco experience in the summertime. Mediterranean fare can be found at Anatolia Café; Thai cuisine at both Lemon Grass and Lotus; fine Italian food at Marotta’s; something to satisfy one’s sweet tooth at Sweetie Fry or Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates; and both The Tavern Company and Brennan’s Colony have been favorite watering holes in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.

“Whatever your palate desires, we offer it in the Cedar Lee district,” says Robinson, adding that two relatively new businesses – BottleHouse Brewery and the Katz Club Diner – are thriving.

The Katz Club sign.

The Katz Club sign.

“Chef Doug Katz is a well-recognized chef having both fire food & drink (on Shaker Square in Cleveland) and Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art,” she says. “Both are doing very well. They have been wonderful additions to the northern portion of our service area and very welcomed by visitors to Cain Park.”

Art enthusiasts will also find much from which to choose. The Wine Spot is home to Art Spot, an exhibition space for Cleveland Institute of Art students, and Heights Arts’ gallery neighbors Cedar Lee Theatre.

Heights Arts’ first summertime exhibition, Space Divided, will run from June 13 through July 26; on July 10, its next EKPHRASTACY event – in which poets respond to visual arts – will be held; and through September, Heights Arts will oversee a new public art program, Make Your Mark for the Arts, in which people are invited to make a stamp and “leave their mark” at a participating businesses and organizations.

Autumn will bring the return of Heights Music Hop, a district-wide series of musical performances that started in 2013.

“It was a unique mix of local music paired with our destinations and done collaboratively with Cleveland Beer Week,” Robinson says. “Future Heights, which is one of our civic organizations, organized the event. Cellar Door Cleveland had multiple bands there, and there were additional bands from the area. There were at least 10 stage venues, and other merchants had artists performing in their shops.”

There are also several shopping options, says Robinson, highlighting Revive Fair Trade Eco-Boutique, which offers fashion accessories and housewares from around the globe; Simply Charming, which features contemporary fashions and jewelry as well as unique accessories and greeting cards; and Unique Melodies Boutique, which offers plus-size clothing lines as well as simply fun fashions.

“We are an authentic Main Street environment, and over 80 percent of our merchants are local,” she says. “If you desire a friendly and quality customer service experience, whether you want to impress a first date or just unwind with good friends, we invite you to experience our Main Street hospitality.” CV