Beer: Fat Heads expanding to Cleveland suburb, where it will brew
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If someone were to tell you that Fat Heads is a brewpub in the Cleveland area, you might say, "No, Fat Heads is a great beer bar on the Pittsburgh's South Side."
Soon, you'll both be right.
Fat Heads Brewery & Saloon, the first franchise of the Fat Head's Saloon on East Carson Street, is to open late this fall or winter in the Cleveland suburb of North Olmsted.
Fat Heads owner Glenn Benigni, who also is an investor, says another investor in the group opening the place is its brewer, Matt Cole, of Rocky River [Ohio] Brewing Co. Mr. Cole is a 1996 University of Pittsburgh graduate who as a student worked in sales at Penn Brewery and started homebrewing in his Oakland basement.
He says this new Fat Heads will look a lot like the one on South Side, from the color scheme and other furnishings to the signature aspects such as the Frequent Flyer Beer Tour. More importantly, he aims to capture the same vibe as "a cool comfortable place to hang out" with lots of good eats.
The Ohio menu, while slightly smaller, will contain "Headwiches" and other signature items, though most of them will be renamed for local flavor. For instance, the acclaimed Southside Slopes kielbasa-and-pierogies sandwich takes on the name of Cleveland's Polish area as the "Parma Karma."
Unlike Pittsburgh, this Fat Heads will have a smoker -- for everything from meats to tomatoes and garlic -- as well as a hearth-style pizza oven.
Pittsburgh, of course, does not brew its own beer. Mr. Benigni says the new Fat Heads' lineup "will be a combination of house-brewed beers, probably 10 to 12, plus a wall of guest beers as well, maybe up to 30." The house brands will be available mostly on draft, including in growlers to go, but Mr. Cole may bottle some special stuff.
The location is suburban, not city, but it has 240 parking spaces. The business is at 24579 Lorain Road, which had a five-decade run as the Danny Boy Farm Market in North Olmsted, about 16 miles southwest of downtown Cleveland. But you won't have to drive there to try the beer.
Mr. Benigni says there'll be two beers sent to Pittsburgh to start, Voodoo Monkey Chocolate Stout and Head Hunter IPA, and Mr. Cole promises seasonal selections as well.
He's well aware of the mostly friendly rivalry between these two areas -- the northwest Ohio native says he's a (suffering) Steelers fan in Browns territory -- but figures both Fat Heads will have fun with that, too.
One of the new sandwiches is a 1-pound burger called "the Dog Pound."
Another Pittsburgh angle: Matt Cole's replacement at Rocky River Brewing Co. in Rocky River, Ohio, is to be Jim Lieb, the brewer at the recently closed Hereford & Hops steakhouse and brewery in Cranberry. He's starts training there with Mr. Cole later this month.
First Published August 21, 2008 12:00 am